Terms, words and abbreviations used throughout the site.
AC alternating current. Household electricity grid supply in New Zealand is AC, and therefore most household appliances work on AC. See also DC
Access point a place where access may be made to a discharge pipe for inspection, cleaning or maintenance
Argon a gas used between the glass panes in some insulating glass units
AS Australian standard
AS/NZS Joint Australian and New Zealand Standard
Backflow the unplanned reversal of flow of water (or water and contaminants) into the water supply system
BCA building consent authority an organisation that can issue building consents, inspect construction and certify completion of building work. All territorial authorities (city and district councils) are accredited as building consent authorities
Bio-polymers polymers from wood, cotton, horn (hardened protein) and raw rubber
Blackwater wastewater from toilets and urinals
BIPV Building-integrated photovoltaics. These photovoltaic materials are built into conventional building elements such as roof tiles or skylights.
Carbon footprint the sum of greenhouse gas emissions and removals in a product system, expressed as CO2 equivalent and based on a life cycle assessment (ISO, 2013)
Clean wind wind which blows consistently from one direction without turbulence
CCA copper, chrome and arsenate timber preservative
CFL compact fluorescent lamp. These use less energy than the traditional incandescent lamps
Closed loop solar water heating system a heat transfer fluid absorbs heat in the solar panels and carries it to the storage cylinder, where the heat is transferred to the water through a heat exchanger
CO2 carbon dioxide
CodeMark certification building products and methods that have obtained a CodeMark certificate must be accepted by building consent authorities as being Building Code-compliant, if the product/method is being used according to the certificate and its instructions.
Coefficient of performance (CoP) energy efficiency measure for heat pumps in heating mode. The ratio of heating capacity to the electrical power input
Construction R-value the combination of the R-values of the individual components of a building element less the effect of any thermal bridging of the framing. In many cases the construction R-value may be lower than the R-value of the insulation alone.
Continuous flow water heaters water is only heated at the time hot water is required
Convection heating form of heating which warms the air (contrast with radiant heating, below)
CSIRO (Australian) Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation
CuAz copper azole timber preservative
DC direct current, an electric current which flows in only one direction. Photovoltaic cells produce DC electricity, and battery banks that store electricity from small generating units also work on DC. See also AC
Deconstruction the process of disassembling a building by removing materials for reuse and recycling
Discharge stack a discharge pipe that has one or more connections and is vented at one end via a discharge vent stack.
Drumminess Separation of layers in cement or tiled work.
EECA Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority
EIFS Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems. This is a wall cladding system where polystyrene sheets are typically plastered with a reinforced polymer modified cement-based plaster and then painted.
Embodied energy all of the energy used over the life of a material or building, starting from the extraction of raw materials for manufacture and going through to disposal
Energy Efficiency Ratio energy efficiency measure of heat pumps in cooling mode. The ratio of cooling capacity to the electrical power input
Environmental product declaration an independently-verified, science-based declaration of environmental performance of a materials or product for all or part of its life cycle
EPS expanded polystyrene. Typically used as underfloor insulation
Evacuated glass tube solar panels made up of a number of glass tubes, each with a vacuum. Inside the vacuum a plate (often made of copper) absorbs heat. A tube, cylinder or pipe connected to the absorber plate contains water or some other fluid such as glycol which absorbs heat and carries it to the water in the storage cylinder
Evaporative coolers use a fan to move hot, dry air through a wet filter. They add moisture to the air, and the air temperature drops as warmth is used to evaporate the moisture. Evaporative coolers are only efficient in dry air
First flush diverter a device which directs the first amount of rain (which washes dust and leaves off a roof) away from a rainwater collection tank
Flat plate solar panels the most commonly used solar collectors, they have a metal plate (often copper, though sometimes aluminium) to absorb heat
Flexible polypropylene alloy (FPA) an alloy of ethylene propylene rubber used for roofing applications
Fluorescent lamps provide light by causing a phosphor coating on the inside of the glass to glow. They are energy efficient, using as little as 20% of the energy to provide the same light as an incandescent lamp, and last longer than incandescent lamps
Foul water the discharge from any sanitary fixture or sanitary appliance
FSC Forest Stewardship Council
GHG greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide and methane
Green Star a voluntary environmental rating tool for buildings. The New Zealand version is run by the New Zealand Green Building Council
Greywater wastewater from baths, showers and hand basins; may also include wastewater from laundries
Halogen lamps a type of incandescent lamp made of quartz that uses halogen gas to extend the life of the tungsten filament. They are more expensive than standard incandescent bulbs, but they last longer and are a little more energy efficient
Heat recovery systems a heat exchanger transfers heat from warm room air which is being discharged to cooler fresh air being brought in
HEEP Household Energy End-use Project, a research project conducted by BRANZ which measured energy use by New Zealand households
HEPA A high-efficiency particulate air filter that traps small particles and is commonly found in good commercial or domestic vacuum cleaners. These are not sufficient for extracting hazardous dusts
Homestar an independent rating tool, run by the New Zealand Green Building Council, that measures the health, warmth and efficiency of New Zealand houses on a scale from 6 to 10
Hydronic heaters a heating system that uses circulating hot water
IGU insulating glass unit (double or triple glazing)
Illuminance the brightness of light. Technically, it is the luminous flux density at a surface, expressed as lumens per square metre (lm/m2) or lux
Incandescent lamps lamps which produce heat as well as light, and are thus a much less efficient form of lighting than, for example, LED lamps
Impervious floor covering material that does not permit the passage of water.
Inverters convert DC electricity to AC electricity
IOS International Organization for Standardization, the body that develops and publishes international standards
IPCC Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations body that assesses the science around climate change
Laminated glass two sheets of glass bonded together with a thin plastic layer between
LEDs light emitting diodes. Highly efficient and long-lasting form of lighting
LEED Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, an international green building rating and certification scheme
Legionella bacteria that can grow in water heaters and plumbing systems and can cause health problems.
Life cycle assessment systematic means of considering the impact of a material or component over its life, from extraction to processing/manufacturing to construction/installation to use to eventual disposal
LIM Land Information Memorandum, a document or documents containing information about a particular property, available from the local territorial authority
LOSP Light Organic Solvent Preservatives; insecticides and fungicides in a spirit-based carrier for treating timber
Low-E glass glazing with a thin transparent low emissivity coating which reduces heat loss
l/s litres per second
Lux a measure of the brightness of light, given as lumens per square metre (lm/m2). Moonlight may be around 0.3 lux and a bright daytime sky around 30,000 lux. Lux can be measured with a handheld light meter
MDF medium density fibreboard, a compressed engineered wood product
MEPS Minimum Energy Performance Standards, which set minimum energy efficiency requirements for many types of home appliance
Micro-hydro systems use flowing water from a stream or spring to turn a water turbine that generates electricity
MJ/kg a measure of embodied energy based on the weight of the material
m/s metres per second
NIWA National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research
NZBC New Zealand Building Code
NZCCO New Zealand Climate Change Office
NZECP New Zealand Electrical Code of Practice
NZS New Zealand Standards
Open loop solar water heating system the water thats being heated for consumption runs through the solar panels
Passive design design which uses natural daylighting, ventilation, and the suns warmth rather than relying on artificial lighting, or active ventilation and heating
PCBU a person conducting a business or undertaking. From the Health and Safety at Work Act.
Photovoltaic systems absorb sunlight and convert it into electricity. They can be used as small-scale electricity generators that partially replace the mains supply
Pisι rammed earth construction, where the earth is progressively compacted into removable formwork
Polybutylene a plastic used for piping
Polycarbonate a plastic used for translucent wall and roof cladding products
Polyeolefin a plastic used in the manufacture of synthetic wall underlays or building wraps.
Potable water water treated to a drinkable quality
Primary treatment a minimal level of treatment involving separation of solids and anaerobic action only
Producer statement a document from an expert often used to support a building consent application. These documents are accepted at a building consent authoritys discretion and have no status in the Building Act.
PVC plasticised polyvinyl chloride, a plastic typically used for flooring
Radiant heating form of heating where the people and objects in front of the heater are warmed, rather than the air (contrast with convection heating, above)
RAPS remote area power systems
Relative Humidity (RH) the percentage of water vapour in the air at a specific temperature compared to the maximum amount that the air could hold at that temperature
R-value a measure of the insulation value of a material or component
REBRI Resource Efficiency in the Building and Related Industries. A partnership which promotes, advocates, and assists resource efficiency measures in the building and related industries
Renewable energy energy derived from the sun, wind, biomass and other renewable sources, rather than from fossil fuels
Resilient sheet flooring thin sheets or tiles which are applied directly to a flat floor surface, such as vinyl, linoleum, synthetic rubber and recycled rubber
Secondary treatment a higher level of treatment that involves aerobic action to produce effluent suitable for some irrigation situations.
Solvents organic chemicals typically used to dissolve or disperse other substances. They readily evaporate in the air at normal temperatures and can be hazardous to health.
Stachybotrys a variety of blackish mould that grows on materials containing cellulose which can be harmful to health
Substrate An underlying layer, such as the fibre-cement sheeting under a waterproof membrane
Sustainability meeting the present needs without comprising future needs, i.e. it will not run out or harm the environment in the future
Thermal transfer wheel a packed cylinder (or drum) that rotates slowly within an airtight casing between the fresh air and exhaust air flows, taking warmth from the exhaust air and transferring it to the fresh incoming air
Thermally-broken aluminium a plastic insert with higher thermal performance separates two sections of aluminium. Used in some window frames
Thermal envelope the thermal barrier between the heated spaces in a home and the outside. Usually bounded by external walls and windows, the insulated ceiling or roof and the floor, but typically excludes the garage
uPVC unplasticised polyvinyl chloride, a plastic typically used for window frames, pipework, cladding, guttering and downpipes
VOC volatile organic compound. VOCs are organic chemicals that are given off as gases to surrounding air from some solids and liquids. They are found in some paints and coatings and other materials. Some VOCs are harmful to health
VUW Victoria University of Wellington
Wastewater fixtures are all sanitary fixtures or appliances that receive wastewater and are not soil fixtures
Water head the drop in height from the point where water flows into an inlet pipe until it reaches a generator turbine
Watts peak (Wp) the power output generated by a photovoltaic module under standardised test conditions
WEERS Window Energy Efficiency Rating Scheme, a 6-star programme assessing window performance
Wetback water from a hot water cylinder passes through a domestic heater (such as a wood burner) and back to the cylinder
Wp watts peak power
XPS extruded polystyrene. Typically used as underfloor insulation