Glossary of Frequent Sustainable Terms




Acid rain

Precipitation of dilute solutions of strong mineral acids, formed by the mixture in the atmosphere of several industrial pollutants (mainly sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides) found naturally in oxygen and water vapor (U.S. Green Building Council).


Adaptive / adaptive vegetation

Non-native plants, introduced, that grow well in a habitat with minimal protection in winter, pest control, fertilization or irrigation once established its root system. Adapted plants are considered low-maintenance and non-invasive (U.S. Green Building Council).


Adaptive / adaptive reuse

Design and construction of a structure so that it is suitable for future use different from its original use. This avoids the environmental impact of using new materials (U.S. Green Building Council).


Air Quality Standard

Defined by EPA as the level of pollutants indicated by regulation, which must not be exceeded in a particular area in a specific period (U.S. Green Building Council).


Alternative energy

They are energy sources that do not involve the use of fossil fuels, such as coal, gas and / or petroleum, but come mostly from renewable sources. These include solar and wind power, among other alternative energy technologies.



It translates as “American Association of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers” (U.S. Green Building Council)



Variety of life in all forms, levels and combinations, including ecosystem diversity, species diversity and genetic diversity (U.S. Green Building Council)



Land used or previously developed that may be contaminated with hazardous waste and that, once corrected environmental damage, it is possible to reuse. The redevelopment of brownfields offers a significant opportunity to restore degraded urban land while promoting infill development and reducing urban sprawl (U.S. Green Building Council).


Building coefficient

Relation between the total constructed area of the building and the allowable land area that the building can cover. In a green / green building, the goal is to build upwards and not outwards because a smaller footprint means less impact on the existing or created landscape (U.S. Green Building Council).


Built environment

Artificial environment that provides a structure for human activity (U.S. Green Building Council).


Building footprint

Area of ??the project site used by the building structure, defined by the perimeter of the building plan. Parking lots, gardens and other facilities are not considered on the surface of the building (U.S. Green Building Council).


Carbon footprint

Measurement of greenhouse gas emissions associated with an activity. A carbon footprint in buildings occurs in the construction, operation, energy use, building-related transport, and built-in water, solid waste and building materials (U.S. Green Building Council) stages.


Carbon dioxide (CO²)

It enters the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels (coal, natural gas and oil) solid waste, trees, wood products and as a result of chemical reactions (cement production). Carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere when absorbed by plants as part of the EPA United States Environmental Protection Agency.



Arrangement through which 2 or more people share a transportation vehicle (U.S. Green Building Council).


Chain of Custody (COC)

Follow-up of a product from the point of harvest or extraction to its final use, including all subsequent stages of the process, transformation, manufacturing and distribution (U.S. Green Building Council).


Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC)

Organic chemical compound known for its high potential to destroy ozone (U.S. Green Building Council).


Commissioning (Cx)

Verification process and documentation that a building and all its systems and assemblies are planned, designed, installed, tested, operated and maintained to meet the requirements of the project owner. (U.S. Green Building Council).


Commissioning plan

Document summarizing the organization, program, resource allocation, and documentation requirements of the commissioning process (U.S. Green Building Council).


Commissioning report or Commissioning

Document detailing the commissioning process, including a review of the commissioning program, equipment identification and description of the commissioning process (U.S. Green Building Council).


Commissioning Services (Commissioning Services)

Evaluation process that allows to verify the systems related with the energy consumption installed and calibrated, taking into account the requirements of the client (OPR), bases of design (BOD) and documents of construction.



Construction waste management plan

Plan that addresses the classification, collection and disposal of wastes generated during the construction or renovation processes. It should address waste management to landfills or landfills as well as recyclable materials (U.S. Green Building Council).


Cooling tower

Structure that uses water to absorb heat from air conditioning systems and to regulate air temperature in a facility (U.S. Green Building Council).


Developmental footprint

Area affected by the development or activity of the site. Stools, roadways, parking lots, other facilities and the building itself are part of the development trail (U.S. Green Building Council).


Density of road network

Density indicator of a neighborhood, calculated as the number of miles of roads per square mile. The miles of roads represent the length of a street along its central axis. A community with a high density of road network and narrow, interconnected streets is more likely to be friendlier to pedestrians than a low density road network and wide streets.


Disturbance / alteration of the site

Portion of a site that is altered by construction activity. At undeveloped sites, restriction of area and site alteration limit may protect surrounding habitat (U.S. Green Building Council).


Drip irrigation / drip irrigation

Provides low pressure water through a piping system and drippers. The water is distributed to the earth from a network of perforated tubes and infiltrates to the roots. Drip irrigation is a highly efficient form of microirrigation (U.S. Green Building Council).



Waste disposal site where waste is usually spread in thin layers, compacted and covered with a fresh layer of soil every day (EPA United States Environmental Protection Agency).



The Earthcheck evaluation system for the operation of destinations, hotels and venues, together with the standard of design and planning, seeks to measure the performance of these spaces from its conception and over time, to reward the progress in sustainable terms of these items. This is the first certification of its kind that recognizes sustainable practices of tourism industry organizations. It focuses on continuous improvement and on an important with the environment.


EDGE Certified

The EDGE (Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies) certification is an innovation of IFC (International Finance Corporation), an extension of the World Bank, applicable to new constructions. It is based on the reduction of at least 20% in energy, water and material transformation at regional level. EDGE is available in Mexico and more than 125 countries of emerging economies.


Efficient vehicle

Vehicles that have achieved a rating of more than 40 as a green score, according to the annual car rating of the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (U.S. Green Building Council).


Emission of gases

Emission of volatile organic compounds (VOC) from synthetic and natural products (U.S. Green Building Council).


Energy efficiency

Reduced energy use to perform the same amount of work as the baseline (U.S. Green Building Council).


Environmental Product Evaluation

The Environmentally Preferred Materials Assessment is a service we offer at BEA to determine, through studies and specialized assessments, the ecological characteristics and properties of products, in order to identify and highlight their potential in the area of ??Green Building specifically under the Standards, standards and criteria of the LEED® Certification.


Energy Modeling

Through this service, it is possible to determine the specifications of a prototype with the maximum level of Energy Efficiency based on a Cost-Benefit Analysis.


Energy model

Computer-generated representation of a building’s anticipated power consumption. It allows a comparison between the proposed energy efficiency measures against the base model (U.S. Green Building Council).


Environmental temperature

Defined by EPA as the surrounding air temperature or some other means (U.S. Green Building Council).



Operation of mechanical systems for a minimum of two weeks using 100% of external air at the end of construction and prior to occupancy, to ensure safe indoor air quality (U.S. Green Building Council).


Fossil fuel

Defined by the EPA as the energy derived from organic waste, for example: coal, crude oil and natural gas (U.S. Green Building Council)


Free area

Usually defined by local regulations. If not, the definition is based on the purpose of LEED® calculations, such as the total site area minus the development footprint; Must be a permeable and vegetated surface, with exceptions described in the credit requirements. Only areas at the floor level are included as a free area (U.S. Green Building Council).


Geothermal energy

Electricity generated by the conversion of hot water or steam that is obtained from the heat of the earth (U.S. Green Building Council).



Global warming

Recent and continuous increase in the global temperature near the surface of the Earth (EPA United States Environmental Protection Agency)


Global Warming Potential (GWP)

Total amount of energy a gas absorbs over a period of time (usually 100 years) compared to carbon dioxide (EPA United States Environmental Protection Agency).


Greenhouse Gases (GHG)

Gases that trap heat in the atmosphere. Examples include carbon dioxide, methane and CFCs (EPA United States Environmental Protection Agency) (U.S. Green Building Council).


Green Building Consulting (Green Building Consulting)

In addition to the LEED® Certification, BEA offers services of Sustainable Design, Construction and Operation Manuals, Sustainable Architectural Design Consulting, Environmental Assessment of Building Materials and Green Building Government Plans and Programs.


Green building

Process to achieve ever higher levels of performance in the built environment, which creates more vital communities, healthier indoor and outdoor spaces and a greater connection with nature. The movement of green / ecological buildings strives for a permanent change in design, planning, construction, and practices, to support lower-impact, more sustainable and fundamentally regenerative (U.S. Green Building Council) environments.


Greenhouse effect

Capture and accumulation of heat in the atmosphere (troposphere) near the surface of the Earth (EPA United States Environmental Protection Agency).


Gray or built-in power

Total amount of energy used to harvest or extract, manufacture, transport, install and use a product during its life cycle (U.S. Green Building Council).


Hybrid vehicle

They use gasoline engines to power an electric generator, and use the electric generator and / or batteries to power the vehicle’s (U.S. Green Building Council) tire motor.



Resistance of a material or surface to the penetration of a liquid or penetration of moisture. Waterproof surfaces prevent rainwater from seeping into the soil, thereby increasing runoff, reducing groundwater recharge and degrading surface water quality. (U.S. Green Building Council).


Indoor air quality

Defined by ASHRAE Standard 62.1-2007, as the nature of air within spaces that affects the health and well-being of building users. It is considered acceptable when there are no pollutants and at least 80% of users do not express dissatisfaction (U.S. Green Building Council).


Invasive vegetation

Non-native vegetation in the ecosystem and causing damage once it is introduced. Species that are characterized by being adaptive and aggressive, have a great capacity to reproduce and tend to monopolize the ecosystem to which they are introduced. It is considered one of the major threats to biodiversity and ecosystem stability (U.S. Green Building Council).


Infill Development

Land selection method that focuses on construction in sites that have been previously developed or where gaps exist between existing structures (U.S. Green Building Council).



It encompasses a wide range of people in charge of the design, creation and operation of a building, as well as people whose lives will be impacted by the U.S. Green Building Council.


Integrated design equipment

All participants in the construction project from the beginning of the design process, including design professionals, owner representatives and general contractor and subcontractors (U.S. Green Building Council).


LEED Technical Advisory Group (TAG)

Commission of industry experts who assist in the interpretation of credits and in the development of technical improvements for the LEED® Green Building Rating System (U.S. Green Building Council).


LEED® Intention

Primary goal of each credit requirement (U.S. Green Building Council).



Accreditation that affirms advanced knowledge in sustainable building and expertise in a particular LEED® classification system.



Building Design and Construction, promotes a framework for building a green building holistically, allowing the creation of a healthy, resource-efficient and cost-effective project.


LEED AP for Homes

Accreditation created for members of the residential market, helps to show knowledge in design and sustainable construction for residential construction.


LEED AP for Neighborhood Developments

Difference to those individuals who participate in the planning, design and development of sustainable neighborhoods.



The LEED® accreditation for Interior Design and Construction, or LEED® for Interior Design and Construction, is intended for those members of the industry in charge of the design, construction and improvement of interior commercial spaces and spaces for tenants, offering work environments More healthy and productive for people.



Building Operations and Maintenance, Operation and Maintenance of Buildings in Spanish; Specially designed for professionals looking to implement sustainable practices, improve building performance, increase energy efficiency and reduce environmental impact in existing buildings.


LEED Certificate (LEED Certification)

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Certification is a green building assessment method designed in the United States. It evaluates the environmental performance with the measurement of the efficient use of energy, water, the correct use of materials, waste management in the construction and quality of the interior environment in the living spaces. This is a standardized assessment and certification system, developed by U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), which today enjoys the highest worldwide recognition in the construction industry.


LEED for Building Design & Constructions (LEED® for Building and Building Design)

It provides guidelines for the design and construction of a green building, taking into account aspects that result in greater efficiency in costs and energy use, in addition to a more healthy and comfortable internal environment for users. This system is applicable to different types of buildings, from which two categories arise: LEED® for New Constructions (NC), focused on new design and construction projects and/or major remodeling, considering from structure and envelope to interior finishes; There is also LEED® for Core & Shell (CS) aimed at speculative projects, ie those that only solve the core and envelope, but not the interior of the property.


LEED® for Commercial Interiors (LEED® for Commercial Interiors)

Certified buildings allow the development of more suitable and comfortable interior spaces for the occupants, while generating a lower environmental impact thanks to the construction process. This system is applicable to interior equipment projects, in which the occupant and his project team only control the interior space of a building, not including structure and/or surroundings. The world’s leading progressive, innovative companies are looking to create sustainable spaces as an opportunity to improve the well-being of their employees in the workplace and to become leaders in the market.


LEED® for Core & Shell (LEED® for Core & Shell)

It considers speculative projects, that is to say, those in which the developer of the building is in charge only of the nucleus and envelope of the building, without taking into account the interior spaces, since these later will be leased and/or sold, reason why this is a Flexible system that allows to be applied to a variety of typologies and uses of buildings.



The LEED® Existing Buildings Operation and Maintenance (EBOM) system recognizes established buildings that count on and/or seek to implement processes and plans for high energy and environmental efficiency and operation. The LEED® O + M certification has a validity period of 5 years; To maintain such certification, the building must be recertified at the end of that period or, if desired, at least 12 months from the certification previously obtained.


LEED® for Homes

It recognizes single-family and multifamily houses to be built or will undergo major remodeling, and apply the best practices in sustainable building during its design and construction processes. Certified homes provide healthier and more comfortable spaces for the occupants, while reducing their impact on the environment.


LEED® for Neighborhood Development

Certification system developed to inspire and help create better, more sustainable and connected urban developments. This system focuses beyond buildings, taking full communities into account. Projects from the conceptual design stage through to construction can opt for this certification to offer users a much higher quality of life compared to similar developments.


LEED® Green Associate

Accreditation for professionals related to the Sustainable Building industry. LEED® Green Associate demonstrates a solid and up-to-date foundation on sustainable building principles and best practices for carrying it out.


LEED® Online (Online)

Data collection portal managed by GBCI, through which the team loads information about the project (U.S. Green Building Council).


LEED® Rating System

Voluntary, consensus-based and market-driven system of proven and proven technology. The system represents the USGBC’s effort to provide a national benchmark for green building. It aims to improve occupant welfare, building performance and economic performance using established and innovative practices, standards and technologies (U.S. Green Building Council).


LEED Prerequisite

Component required by the LEED® Green Building Rating System which is required to be obtained and does not award a point (U.S. Green Building Council).


LEED® Credit

Optional component of the LEED® Green Building Rating System, which results in obtaining certification points (U.S. Green Building Council).


LEED® Course

Taught by our expert team of consultants, our courses seek the preparation of professionals seeking to keep abreast of the best practices and highest standards of Sustainable Building. It aims to introduce the new requirements of LEED® v4 Certification and facilitate the study to be accredited as LEED® Green Associate.


Life cycle approach

Consider all stages of a project, product or service, adding the longevity dimension to the thinking of systems as a whole (U.S. Green Building Council).


Life cycle assessment

Analysis of environmental aspects and potential impacts associated with a product, process or service (U.S. Green Building Council).


Life cycle costing

Costing process that considers both purchase and operating costs, as well as relative savings over the life of the building or product (U.S. Green Building Council).


Living Building Challenge

Created by the International Living Future Institute, the Living Building Challenge becomes the first regenerative certification system, bringing the world more than it takes. It integrates principles of positive net energy, water reuse, protection of habitats and good use of site, use of materials safe for living beings, health and happiness, equity, beauty and inspiration.


Within this concept, there is the possibility of obtaining independent certifications:

  • Living Building Challenge: It is the achievement of all the imperatives required by certification. That is, obtaining the 7 petals in which the certification is divided.
  • Certification by petals: Refers to the fulfillment of 3 of the 7 petals that make up the certification; Having between them, the one referring to the water, energy or materials.
  • Net Zero Energy Certification: The compliance of the energy petal which indicates supplying all the energy consumed by the building through renewable energy produced on site.

Low Impact Development

Land management approach that mimics the natural systems for stormwater management as close as possible to the source (U.S. Green Building Council).


Material rescued

Building elements recovered from existing and reused buildings or construction sites. Common salvaged materials include structural posts and beams, floors, doors, joinery, bricks and decorative elements (U.S. Green Building Council).


Minimum Reported Efficiency Value

Rating indicating the efficiency of the air filters in the mechanical system. MERV values ??range from 1 (very low efficiency) to 16 (very high) (U.S. Green Building Council).


Non-permeable surface

Paved area or deck where the ground is not exposed, such as roads, sidewalks or parking lots (U.S. Green Building Council).



Inability to be replaced; Permanently depleted once used. Examples of non-renewable energy sources are oil or natural gas; Some non-renewable natural resources are metallic minerals (U.S. Green Building Council).



The Official Mexican Standard NOM 008 ENER is dedicated to regulate the gain or loss of heat through the envelope (doors, windows, floors, ceilings) in order to provide adequate thermal comfort to the occupant. This Mexican standard is mandatory in all areas, except for residential and residential use.



The Official Mexican Standard NOM 020 ENER is dedicated to regulate the gain or loss of heat through the envelope (doors, windows, floors, ceilings) in order to provide adequate thermal comfort to the occupant. This Mexican standard is mandatory only applicable to housing (houses and apartments).


Passive design

Planning with the intention of taking advantage of natural elements such as solar light for lighting and wind for heating and cooling (U.S. Green Building Council).


Passive ventilation

Uses building layout, materials and shape to provide natural ventilation to spaces, using non-mechanical methods of heat exchange and air movement (U.S. Green Building Council).



Surface that allows the absorption and transport of the moisture to be absorbed by the soil (U.S. Green Building Council).


Photovoltaic power

Electricity from photovoltaic cells / cells that convert solar energy into electricity (U.S. Green Building Council).


Project Credit Interpretation Regulations (CIR)

GBCI response providing technical guidance on how LEED® requirements apply to specific projects (U.S. Green Building Council).


Quality of the interior environment

Conditions within a building, and its impact on occupants or residents (U.S. Green Building Council).


Rain garden

Element for stormwater management consisting of an excavation and vegetation that collects and infiltrates runoff and reduces peak discharge rates (U.S. Green Building Council)


Rainwater harvesting

Collection and storage of precipitation from a catchment area, such as a roof (U.S. Green Building Council)..



One of several substances used in refrigeration systems to transfer heat energy in air conditioners and refrigeration systems (U.S. Green Building Council).




Regenerative design

Sustainable plans for built environments that improve existing conditions. Regenerative design goes beyond reducing impacts to create positive change in the local and global environment (U.S. Green Building Council). 


Regional material

Material that is extracted, processed and manufactured near the site where the project is located, expressed as a percentage of the total cost of the materials. For LEED®, regional materials originate within a 500-mile (804.67km) radius of the project site (U.S. Green Building Council).


Renewable energy

Renewable energy resources such as biomass, hydropower, geothermal energy, solar energy, wind energy, and energy from the action of waves and tides (EPA United States Environmental Protection Agency).


Retro commissioning

Commissioning process that can be done in buildings that have already gone through a commissioning process and want to identify and recognize performance improvements (U.S. Green Building Council).


Request for interpretation of LEED® credits

Formal process of the USGBC in which the project team having difficulties in applying a LEED® requirement or credit can seek and receive clarifications, issued as a resolution of the interpretation of credits. Difficulties usually arise when LEED® reference guides do not directly address specific issues or when a conflict between credit requirements (U.S. Green Building Council) arises.


Reuse of materials

Return of materials to the active use (in the same capacity or one related to its original use), expressed as a percentage of the total cost of the materials of a building. The salvaged materials are incorporated into the new building; Thus extending the useful life of materials that would otherwise be disposed of (U.S. Green Building Council).



Sum of particles to bodies of water that is related to natural processes or to human activity. Sedimentation generally reduces water quality and accelerates the aging of rivers, lakes and streams (U.S. Green Building Council).


Sick Building Syndrome (SBS)

Defined by EPA as the combination of symptoms experienced by users of a building that appear to be related to dwell time in the building but can not be traced to a specific cause. Complaints may be located in a particular room or area, or may occur throughout the building (U.S. Green Building Council).


Smart growth

Focus for growth that protects the free area and arable land, emphasizing development with housing and transportation options near work, shops and schools (U.S. Green Building Council).



Stakeholder meeting

Meeting that includes individuals or entities with particular personal interests in the outcome of a project (U.S. Green Building Council).



Exterior surface of a building, including walls, windows, roof and floor; Also known as building housing (U.S. Green Building Council).


Sustainable Building

The concept of Sustainable Building has been developed along with the realization of the sustainable development movement. The proposal was originally coined in the 1980s by the Norwegian Gro Harlem Brundtland policy for the United Nations and refers to preserving current resources for future generations.



Defined by the Brundtland Commission as the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (U.S. Green Building Council)


Systemic thinking

Understanding the built environment as a series of relationships in which all parties influence many other parts (U.S. Green Building Council).


Thermal comfort

Temperature, humidity, and airflow within which most people feel most comfortable, as determined by ASHRAE Standard 55. Since the costumes of the people are different depending on the season, the levels of thermal comfort vary with the season. Control settings for HVAC systems should vary accordingly to ensure comfortable occupants and energy conservation (U.S. Green Building Council).


Thermal mass

Resistance of a material to changes in temperature (eg septum and concrete). Those with a large thermal mass absorb and conserve heat, then release it over time. It is crucial for passive design, especially in regions with sudden changes in temperature between day and night. (Autodesk Sustainability Workshop).


Thermal solar energy

Collect or absorb sunlight through solar collectors to heat pool water or for residential and commercial use (U.S. Green Building Council).



The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) is a non-profit organization that promotes the implementation of excellence practices in sustainable design and construction.


Value Engineering

Process of formal review of project design against its intended function, to identify potential alternatives that reduce costs and improve performance (U.S. Green Building Council).


Vehicle with alternative fuel

Vehicle using low-pollution fuels without gasoline such as electricity, hydrogen, propane or compressed natural gas, liquid natural gas, methanol and ethanol. LEED® includes hybrid vehicles (U.S. Green Building Council) in this group.


Virgin agricultural lands

Land with soil suitable for cultivation and not previously developed. Preventing the development of virgin agricultural lands helps to protect the agricultural land needed for food production (U.S. Green Building Council).


Virgin Ground

Site that was never developed for anything except for agricultural uses (U.S. Green Building Council).


Waste / waste diversion

Quantity of waste disposed of by means other than incineration or landfill, expressed in tonnes. Examples of waste diversion include reuse and recycling (U.S. Green Building Council).


WELL Building Standard

The WELL Building Standard certification proposes to make spaces promote health and well-being in people. Based on what makes the human body good, its strategies are focused on providing comfort, better sleep, better digestion, reduce the risk of diseases and improve people’s mental health, among others


Wind power

Electricity generated by wind turbines (U.S. Green Building Council).



Gardening method that makes systematic irrigation unnecessary through drought-adaptable plants with low water requirements, as well as through soil modifications such as organic fertilizer, compost and mulch or mulch to reduce evaporation (US Green Building Council) .


Zero Energy Building

The Net Zero Energy Certification is one of the 3 certifications that are part of the Living Building Challenge, both programs have been created by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI). Under the Net Zero Energy Certification, the building must produce and store enough energy, through renewable sources on site, to meet its own electricity, air conditioning, heating, cooling and ventilation needs. Within this assessment, the purchase of green bonds or similar are disqualified to obtain certification.




Autodesk Sustainability Workshop. Passive heating: Thermal mass. 13 de Enero de 2015

EPA United States Environmental Protection Agency. 12 de Enero de 2015

U.S. Green Building Council. «LEED® Green Associate exam – Spanish technical glossary.» n.d. LEED® – US Green Building Council.

Enero de 2015

LEED® Reference Guide. Washington, 2009