Green Building and Green Design
Green building and green design

Glossary

Assembly Bill (AB) 32. California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. Tile Act requires that California’s GHG emissions be reduced to 1990 levels by 2020. This is a reduction of about 30 percent from projected "business as usual" levels. The Act gives the California Air Resource Board (CARB) authority to identify and regulate sources of greenhouse gas emissions. The CARB's “Scoping Plan" for implementing AB 32 includes a wide range of strategies including reducing GHG emissions from cars and light trucks through transportation planning relating to land use. Other measures include implementing green building standards that increase energy efficiency, water conservation, waste reduction, and recycling.

Arterial. A roadway that provides intra-community travel and access to the countywide highway system, characterized by medium speed (30-40 mph) and medium-capacity (10,000-35,000 average daily trips). Access to community arterials should be provided at collector roads and local streets, but direct access
from parcels to existing arterials is common.

Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD)

Bicycle-Friendly. Possessing policies and practices, including community design and infrastructure, which support cycling as a regular mode of travel, as well as recreation. Factors affecting the “bicycle friendliness" of a community may include public facilities, such as bicycle racks on streets or by public buildings; regulations that allow riders to take bicycles on public transit; accessibility, such as the position of bicycle paths relative to roads, quality of the terrain, and presence of curb cuts; and the aesthetics of bikeways and their surroundings. Safety features such as lighting, security measures, and protection from on road vehicles are additional factors, and may help people become more comfortable about traveling by bicycle, including with other traffic.

Bicycle Lanes, Paths and Routes. A bicycle lane is a corridor expressly reserved and marked for bicycles, existing on a street or roadway in addition to any lanes for use by motorized vehicles. A path is a paved route not on a street or roadway and expressly reserved for bicycles (and often pedestrians) traversing an otherwise unpaved area. Bicycle paths may parallel roads but typically are separated from them by landscaping. A bicycle route is a facility shared with motorists and identified only by signs; it has no pavement markings or lane stripes.

Bikeways. The term bikeways encompasses bicycle lanes, bicycle paths, and bicycle routes. Bikeways are divided into three classes. Class 1 bikeways are paved routes, not on a street or roadway, expressly reserved for bicycles traversing an otherwise unpaved area. Class 2 bikeways are corridors expressly reserved for bicycles, existing on a street of roadway in addition to any lanes for use by motorized vehicles. Class 3 bikeways are shared with motorists and identified only by signs. See BICYCLE LANES, PATHS , and ROUTES.

Buffer Zone. An area of land separating two distinct land uses that softens or mitigates the effects of one land use on the other. Where a commercial district abuts a residential district, for example, additional use, yard, or height restrictions may be imposed to protect residential properties. The term may also be used to describe any zone that separates two unlike zones, such as a multifamily housing zone between single family housing and commercial uses

Building Coverage. The amount of a lot that is covered by buildings, usually expressed as a percentage.

Building Envelope. The space remaining on a site for structures after all building setback, height limit, and bulk requirements have been met.

Building Intensity. For residential uses, the actual number or the allowable range of dwelling units per net or gross acre. For non-residential uses, the actual or the maximum permitted floor area ratio (FAR). See FLOOR AREA RATIO.

Building Official. The person responsible for the administration and enforcement of the building, housing, plumbing, electrical and related codes.

Build-to Line. A zoning requirement that sets a line that a building facade must be built to. The opposite of a setback. Usually required in order to maintain a uniform street wall and create a street as an "outdoor room," See SETBACK.

Build-out. Development of land to its full potential or theoretical capacity as permitted under current or proposed planning or zoning designations

Built Environment. Buildings, roads, parks, and all other improvements constructed by people that form the physical character of a community

Busway. A vehicular right-of-way reserved exclusively for buses.

California Air Resources Board (CARB). State agency responsible for regulating air pollution, including emissions of greenhouse gases under AB 32 and SB 315. See AB 32, SB 375.

California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). A state law requiring state and local agencies to analyze the potential impacts of their actions on the environment, disclose their findings to the public, and to mitigate impacts where feasible.

CalTrans. California Department of Transportation.

Carbon Dioxide (C02). A naturally occurring gas, and also a by-product of burning fossil fuels and biomass, as well as land-use changes and other industrial processes. It is the reference gas against which other greenhouse gases are measured and therefore has a Global Warming Potential of I. Carbon dioxide represents about 84 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. See GREENHOUSE GAS

Carbon Sequestration. The process of removing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it in a "carbon sink", a fixed molecule in soil, oceans or plants.

Carrying Capacity. (1) The level of land use, human activity, or development for a specific area that can be accommodated permanently without an irreversible change in the quality of air, water, land, or plant and animal habitats. (2) The upper limits of development beyond which the quality of human life, health, welfare, safety, or community character within an area will be impaired. (3) The maximum level of development allowable under current zoning.

Census. The nationwide population count conducted every 10 years by tile U.S. Census Bureau.

California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). A state law requiring state and local agencies to analyze the potential impacts of their actions on the environment, disclose their findings to the public, and to mitigate impacts where feasible.

Climate. Climate is generally defined as the "average weather" over a period of time ranging from months to thousands of years. The classical period is three decades, as defined by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Statistical measurements of climate most often focus on surface variables such as
temperature, precipitation, and wind. See WEATHER.
Climate Action Plan (CAP)

A CAP is a planning document that identifies ways in which the community can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The CAP will be developed in accordance with the criteria for a Qualified Greenhouse Gas Reduction Program set by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Guidelines (proposed).

Climate Change. Climate change refers to any significant change in measures of climate (such as temperature, precipitation, or wind) lasting for an extended period (decades or longer). Climate change may result from: natural factors, such as changes in the sun's intensity or slow changes in the earth's orbit around the sun; natural processes within the climate system (such as changes in ocean circulation); and human activities that change the atmosphere's composition (such as burning fossil fuels) and the land surface (such as deforestation, reforestation, urbanization or desertification.).

Collector.  A street that provides circulation within and between neighborhoods, characterized by relatively low speed (25-30 mph) and moderate volume (5,000-20,000 average daily trips). Collectors usually serve short trips and are intended for collecting trips from local streets and distributing them to the arterial network.

Commercial. A land use classification that permits facilities for the buying and selling of commodities and services.

Community. (1) A specific group of people, often living in a defined geographic area, who share a common culture, values, and norms and who are arranged in a social structure according to relationships the community has developed over a period of time. (2) More generally, a distinct local area such as a neighborhood, district, jurisdiction or municipality.

Community Character. The image of a community or area as defined by factors such as built environment, natural features and open space elements, type of housing, architectural style, infrastructure, and the type and quality of public facilities and services.

Community Garden. Places where neighbors and residents can gather to cultivate plants, vegetables, and fruits and, depending on local laws, keep bees and raise chickens or other livestock and poultry.

Commute Shed. The area from which people may commute from their homes to a specific workplace destination, given certain assumptions about maximum travel time or distance.

Compatibility. The characteristics of different uses or activities that permit them to be located near each other in harmony and without conflict. The designation of permitted and conditionally permitted uses in a zoning district is intended to achieve compatibility. Some elements affecting compatibility include intensity
of occupancy as measured by dwelling units per acre; pedestrian or vehicular traffic generated; volume of goods handled; and environmental effects like noise, vibration, glare, air pollution, or radiation.

Complete Streets. Streets designed to accommodate all modes of travel and enable safe access for all users. Pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and bus riders of all ages and abilities are able to safely move along and across a complete street.

Connectivity. The ease of travel between two points. The degree to which streets or areas are interconnected and easily accessible to one another by direct routes. An example of high connectivity would be a dense grid pattern in a downtown area.

Density. The amount of development per acre permitted on a parcel under the applicable zoning. Common measures of density include population per acre or square mile and welling units per acre. Gross density includes the area necessary for streets, schools and parks. Net density does not include land area for public facilities.

Density. Employment. A measure of the number of employed persons per specific area (for example, employees per acre).

Density. Residential. The number of permanent residential dwelling units per acre of land. Densities specified in the general plan may be expressed in units per gross acre or per net developable acre. See ACRES, GROSS; DEVELOPABLE ACRES, NET.

Dwelling Unit. A room or group of rooms (including sleeping, eating, cooking, and sanitation facilities, but not more than one kitchen), which constitutes an independent housekeeping unit, occupied or intended for occupancy by one household on a long-term basis.

Emissions: The release of a substance into the atmosphere, including particulate matter and gasses.

Environmental Impact Report (EIR). A report required by CEQA when an agency determines that a project may have a significant effect on the environment. An EIR evaluates a proposed project's impacts on the environment, and recommends mitigation measures to reduce or eliminate those impacts. Decision makers use information in an EIR to help determine whether or not to approve a project. See CALIFORNIA ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY ACT.

Farmers Market (Certified California Farmers' Market). A market (1) operated by a local government agency, one or more certified producers, or a nonprofit organization; (2) certified by and operating in a location approved by the county agricultural commissioner; and (3) where farmers sell directly to consumers agricultural products or processed products made from agricultural products that the farmers grow themselves.

Floor Area Ratio (FAR). The gross floor area permitted on a site divided by the total net area of the site, expressed in decimals to one or two places. For example, on a site with 10,000 net square feet of land area, a floor area ratio of 1.0 will allow a maximum of 10,000 gross square feet of building floor area to be built. On the same site, an FAR of 1.5 would allow 15,000 square feet of floor area; an FAR of2.0 would allow 20,000 square feet; and an FAR of 0.5 would allow only 5,000 square feet. Also commonly used in zoning, FARs are typically applied on a parcel-by-parcel basis as opposed to an average FAR for an entire land use or zoning district.

Floor Area, Gross. The sum of the horizontal areas of the several floors of a building measured from the exterior face of exterior walls, or from the centerline of a wall separating two buildings, but not including any space where the floor-to-ceiling height is less than six feet. Some agencies exclude specific kinds of space (for example, elevator shafts, parking decks) from the calculation of gross floor area.

General Plan. The general plan is the foundation for local land use planning. The plan provides a vision for the foreseeable planning horizon (usually 10 to 20 years) and translates it into goals and policies for the physical development of the city or county. All other land use ordinances and policies flow from the general plan. The general plan covers all of the land within the jurisdiction and any additional land that, in the
agency's judgment, bears relation to its planning. See CALIFORNIA GOVERNMENT CODE SECTION 65300.

Global Warming. An average increase in the temperature of the atmosphere, which can contribute to changes in global climate patterns. Global warming can occur from a variety of causes, both natural and human induced. In common usage, "global warming" often refers to the warming that can occur as a result
of increased emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities. See GREENHOUSE GAS.

Greenhouse Effect. Trapping and build-up of heat in the earth's atmosphere. Some of the heat flowing back toward space from the earth's surface is absorbed by water vapor, carbon dioxide, ozone, and several other gases in the atmosphere and then re-radiated back toward the earth's surface. If the atmospheric concentrations of these greenhouse gases rise, the average temperature of the lower atmosphere will gradually increase.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG). Any gas that absorbs infrared radiation in the atmosphere. Types of greenhouse gases include water vapor, carbon dioxide (C02), methane (CR,), nitrous oxide (N,O), chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), ozone (03)' hydrofluorcarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF,). See CARBON DIOXIDE.

High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV). Any vehicle other than a single-occupant automobile or motorcycle (for example, a vanpool, a bus, or a car carrying two or more persons).

Highway. (I) High-speed, high-capacity, limited-access transportation facility serving regional and countywide travel. (2) Inter-regional roadway that is part of the state transportation system.

Infill Development. Development of vacant or underutilized land (usually individual lots or leftover properties) within areas that are already largely developed.

Jobs/Housing Balance. The availability of affordable housing for employees. The jobs housing ratio divides the number of jobs in an area by the number of employed residents. A ratio of 1.0 indicates a balance. A ratio greater than 1.0 indicates a net in-commute; less than 1.0 indicates a net out-commute.

Land Use Element. One of the seven state-mandated elements of a local general plan. The land use element uses text and maps to designate the future use or reuse of land within a given jurisdiction's planning area. The land use element serves as a guide to the structuring of zoning and subdivision controls, urban renewal and capital improvements programs, and official decisions regarding the distribution and intensity of development and the location of public facilities and open space.

Land Use Regulation. A term encompassing the regulation of land in general and often used to mean those regulations incorporated in the general plan, as distinct from zoning regulations (which are more specific).

LEED. An acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED is a voluntary, consensus based green building rating system developed and maintained by the U.S. Green Building Council to support and certify successful green building design, construction and operations.

LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND). A rating system for neighborhood design. The rating system integrates the principles of smart growth, urbanism and green building and emphasizes the creation of compact, walkable, vibrant, mixed-use neighborhoods with good connections to nearby communities.

Level of Service (LOS) Standard. A standard used by public agencies to measure the quality or effectiveness of a municipal service like police, fire, or library, or the performance of a facility, like a street or highway.

Level of Service (Traffic). A scale that measures the amount of vehicle traffic that a roadway or intersection can accommodate, based on such factors as maneuverability, driver dissatisfaction, and delay.

Level of Service A. Indicates a relatively free flow of traffic, with little or no limitation on vehicle movement or speed.

Level of Service B. Describes a steady flow of traffic, with only slight delays in vehicle movement and speed. All queues clear in a single signal cycle.

Level of Service C. Denotes a reasonably steady, high volume flow of traffic, with some limitations on movement and speed, and occasional backups on critical approaches.

Level of Service D. Designates the level where traffic nears an unstable flow. Intersections still function, but short queues develop and cars may have to wait through one cycle during short peaks.

Level of Service E. Represents traffic characterized by slow movement and frequent (although momentary) stoppages. This type of congestion is considered severe but is not uncommon at peak traffic hours, with frequent stopping, long-standing queues, and blocked intersections.

Level of Service F. Describes unsatisfactory stop-and go traffic characterized by traffic jams and stoppages of long duration. Vehicles at signalized intersections usually have to wait through one or more signal change and "upstream" intersections may be blocked by the long queues.

Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). A regional council of governments within a metropolitan region as defined by the federal government and authorized under federal law to develop a regional transportation plan. See COUNCIL OF GOVERNMENTS, SB 375.

Mixed-Use. Properties on which various uses like office, commercial, institutional, and residential are combined in a single building or on a single site in an integrated development project with significant functional interrelationships and a coherent physical design. A "single site" may include contiguous properties.

Neighborhood. A planning area commonly identified as such in a community's planning documents, and by the individuals residing and working within the neighborhood. Documentation may include a map prepared for planning purposes showing the names and boundaries of neighborhoods. Though neighborhoods are not legal designations, they are among the most commonly recognized and understood land use designations.

New Urbanism. A design philosophy intended to create a strong sense of community by incorporating features of traditional small towns or urban neighborhoods. Compact, walkable neighborhoods with active streets are a key hallmark of new urbanism. The Congress for New Urbanism defines the philosophy according to these principles: "neighborhoods should be diverse in use and population; communities should be designed for the pedestrian and transit as well as the car; cities and towns should be shaped by physically defined and universally accessible public spaces and community institutions; urban places should be framed by architecture and landscape design that celebrate local history, climate, ecology, and building practice."

Parking Management. Parking Management. A Transportation Demand Management technique designed to obtain maximum use from limited parking spaces. It can involve variable pricing and preferential treatment for High-Occupancy Vehicles, non-peak period users, and short-term users.

Pedestrian Friendly. A street, neighborhood, or agency that supports, through planning and zoning, the location of stores, offices, residences, schools, recreational areas, and other public facilities within walking distance of each other, and oriented to promote pedestrian access. Such areas also often feature narrow streets, street trees, awnings, covered transit shelters, benches, brick paving or other less conventional paving types, sidewalks on both sides of the roadway, and safe street crossings, among other elements.

Planning Area. The area directly addressed by the general plan. A city or county planning area typically encompasses the agency's boundaries and potentially annexable land within its sphere of influence.

Quality of Life. The degree to which individuals perceive themselves as able to function physically, emotionally and socially. Quality of life includes all aspects of community life that have a direct influence on the physical and mental health of its members.

Reduction Measure. The City’s action to reduce GHG emissions.

Regional Housing Needs Assessment/Allocation (RHNA). A determination of the existing and projected need for housing within a region, made by a council of governments (COG) or by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). The RHNA numerically allocates the future housing need by household income group for each locality within the region. This allocation must be reflected in the housing element of an agency's general plan.

Department of Housing and Community Development (RCD). The RHNA numerically allocates the future housing need by household income group for each locality within the region. This allocation must be reflected in the housing element of an agency's general plan.

Regional Transportation Plan (RTP). A plan that, among other things, outlines transportation investments for a region. It is drafted by a metropolitan planning organization or regional transportation planning agency every four years (five years in regions that have attained federal air quality standards) and includes a20-year outlook for likely growth in the region.

Regional Transportation Planning Agency (RTPA). A countywide agency authorized under California law to develop a regional transportation plan in areas not served by a metropolitan planning organization.

Senate Bill (SB) 375. (Chapter 728, Statutes of2008) directs the California Air Resources Board to set regional targets for metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light trucks. SB 375 aligns the regional allocation of housing needs and regional transportation planning in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicle trips. See METROPOLITAN PLANNINO ORGANIZATION, REGlONAL TRANSPORTATION PLAN.

Setback. The minimum distance required by zoning to be maintained between two structures or between a structure and a property line.

Smart Growth. A broad concept that describes the change in community design from post-World War II development principles to development that better serves the economic, environmental and social needs of communities. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency identified the following ten principles of smart
growth. (1) Mix land uses (2) Take advantage of compact building design (3) Create a range of housing opportunities and choices (4) Create walkable neighborhoods (5) Foster distinctive, attractive communities with a strong sense of place (6) Preserve open space, farmland, natural beauty, and critical environmental areas (7) Strengthen and direct development toward existing communities (8) Provide a variety of transportation choices (9) Make development decisions predictable, fair, and cost effective (10) Encourage community and stakeholder collaboration in development decisions.

Specific Plan. A plan that an agency may adopt to implement the general plan in all or part of the area covered by the general plan. See CALIFORNIA GOVERNMENT CODE SECTION 65450. A specific plan must specify in detail the land uses, public and private facilities needed to support the land uses, phasing of development, standards for the conservation, development, and use of natural resources, and a program of implementation measures, including financing measures.

Sphere of Influence (SOI). The probable future physical boundaries and service area of a local agency, as determined by the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) for the county within which the agency is located. See LOCAL AGENCV FORMATION COMMISSION.

Sprawl, Urban/Suburban. The spreading of a city and its suburbs over rural land at the fringe of an urban area. Characteristics of sprawl include single-use zoning that often separates housing from jobs and commercial centers; low-density land use focused on single-family homes; and automobile dependent communities with extensive land devoted to parking that often require residents to commute and conduct errands by car. The term sprawl generally has negative connotations due to associated health and environmental issues. For example, residents of sprawling neighborhoods tend to emit more pollution per person and suffer more traffic fatalities. Sprawl is also linked with increased obesity since walking and bicycling are often not viable commuting options. Sprawl is controversial, however, with supporters claiming that consumers prefer lower density neighborhoods and that sprawl does not necessarily increase traffic.

Street Network or Grid. The patterns formed by roadways and the extent to which they are connected to each other. For example, the traditional urban block-like grid involves a dense matrix of interconnected streets typically seen in older urban areas. On the other hand, a hierarchical grid, common in most suburban
areas, consists of sets of minor streets and cul-de-sacs that feed into secondary roadways that ultimately feed into major roadways. See CONNECTIVITY.

Sustainable/Sustainability. Broadly, to keep up or keep going, to maintain an action or process. In the context of land use and environmental sustainability, there are many definitions and some debate about their merits. The U.S. National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 declared as its goal a national policy to "create and maintain conditions under which [humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, and fulfill the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations of Americans." The United Nations'1987 Report of World Commission on Environment and Development: Our Common Future defined sustainable development as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS). A regional growth strategy required under SB 375 that, in combination with transportation policies and programs, strives to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and, if it is feasible, achieves regional GHG reduction targets set by the California Air Resources Board. The SCS is part of a Regional Transportation Plan; must comply with federal law; and must be based upon "current planning assumptions" that include the information in local general plans and sphere of influence boundaries. See SB 375.

Sustainable Development. (I) A pattern of physical development and resource use that aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment, often stated as development meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. (2) Physical development that simultaneously provides for economic prosperity, environmental quality, and social equity.

Traffic Calming. A strategic set of physical changes to streets to reduce vehicle speeds and volumes. It refers to the use of street design techniques, such as curb extensions, widened sidewalks, traffic circles and speed humps, to slow and control the flow of automobile traffic.

Traffic Model. A mathematical representation of traffic movement within an area or region based on observed relationships between the kind and intensity of development in specific areas. Many traffic models operate on the theory that trips are produced in a predictable way by persons living in residential areas who
are attracted by various non-residential land uses.

Transit. The conveyance of persons or goods from one place to another by means of a local or regional public transportation system.

Transit, Public. A system of regularly scheduled buses and/or trains available to the public on a fee-per-ride basis. Also called mass transit. Transit-Oriented Development (TOD). Moderate- to higher-density development, located within easy walk of a major transit stop, generally with a mix of residential, employment, and shopping opportunities designed for pedestrians without excluding the auto. TOD can be new construction or redevelopment of one or more buildings whose design and orientation facilitate transit use.

Transportation Demand Management (TDM). A strategy for reducing demand on the road system by reducing the number of vehicles using the roadways andlor increasing the number of persons per vehicle. For example, TDM attempts to reduce the number of persons who drive alone during the commute period and to increase the number in carpools, vanpools, buses or trains, or walking or biking. TDM can be an element of TSM (see below).

Trip. A one-way journey that proceeds from an origin to a destination via a single mode of transportation; the smallest unit of movement considered in transportation studies. Each trip has one "production end," (or origin--often from home, but not always), and one "attraction end" (destination).

Vehicle-Miles Traveled (VMT). One vehicle traveling the distance of one mile. Total vehicle miles is the aggregate mileage traveled by all vehicles. VMT is a key measure of overall street and highway use. Reducing VMT is often a major objective in efforts to reduce vehicular congestion and achieve air quality goals.

Volume-to-Capacity Ratio. A measure of the operating capacity of a roadway or intersection, in terms of the number of vehicles passing through, divided by the number of vehicles that theoretically could pass through when the roadway or intersection is operating at its designed capacity. Abbreviated as "VIC." At a
VIC ratio of 1.0, the roadway or intersection is operating at capacity. If the ratio is less than 1.0, the traffic facility has additional capacity. Although ratios slightly greater than 1.0 are possible, it is more likely that the peak hour will elongate into a peak period.

Walkable Community. Communities where goods (such as housing, offices, and retail) and services (such as transportation, schools, and libraries) that a community resident or employee needs on a regular basis are located within an easy and safe walk. Walkable communities facilitate pedestrian activity, expanding transportation options, and creating a streetscape that better serves a range of users -- pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, and automobiles. To foster walkability, communities typically mix land uses and build compactly, and ensure safe and inviting pedestrian corridors.

Zoning. The division of a city or county by legislative regulations into areas, or zones, that specify allowable uses for real property and size restrictions for buildings within these areas; a program that implements policies of the general plan.

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