Terms, words and abbreviations used throughout the site.

AC – alternating current

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 – a building consent authority

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.

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

Coefficient of performance (CoP) – energy efficiency measure for heat pumps in heating mode. The ratio of heating capacity to the electrical power input

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

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.

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

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

FSC – Forest Stewardship Council
GHG – greenhouse gases include water vapour, carbon dioxide and methane

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

Hydronic heaters – a heating system that uses circulating hot water

IGUs – insulating glass units (double glazing)

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

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

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

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

Mt – megatonnes

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 that’s being heated for consumption runs through the solar panels

Passive design – design which uses natural daylighting, ventilation, and the sun’s 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

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.

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

WEERS – 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