Sustainability is a growing trend in the construction industry. With a multitude of terms ranging from acronyms like LEED and IAQ to keywords like geothermal and grey water, it can be difficult to understand what the sustainable construction trend is all about. Knowing the below five terms is a great start to a green building vocabulary.


“Net-zero buildings are, by definition, buildings that use less energy than they produce over time. Effective net-zero design demands more than just piling on renewable energy sources. It requires an integrated process of evaluating needs, setting goals, and tailoring solutions to each project, site, and client.” – Building Design + Construction


IAQ, or Indoor Air Quality refers to the relative “health and comfort” of the air in a building. Factors like gases, pollutants and other contaminants can all impact a building’s overall IAQ.


The term geothermal is used to describe a method of energy efficiency that utilizes the earth’s natural heat to create the energy needed to heat and cool buildings.


As the name suggests, grey water refers to the “waste water” that comes from systems like our showers, sinks, dishwashers and washing machines. From a sustainability perspective, grey water can be recycled and reused in applications like irrigation.


LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It is a points-based certification that buildings can receive for efforts made towards sustainability and efficiency. There are four different ratings a project can receive: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum.

For a full list of terms, the Green Resource Council provides a great glossary of terms.