Definitions - c

Cadmium

A heavy metal that accumulates in the environment.

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Canola

In agriculture, canola is a variety of the rapeseed plant from which oil is obtained.

It is a vegetable oil called rapeseed or canola oil and is high in mono-unsaturated fatty acid.

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Cap And Trade

Cap and Trade is a market-based policy tool for protecting human health and the environment.

A cap and trade program first sets an aggressive cap, or maximum limit, on emissions. Sources covered by the program then receive authorizations to emit in the form of emissions allowances, with the total amount of allowances limited by the cap. Each source can design its own compliance strategy to meet the overall reduction requirement, including sale or purchase of allowances, installation of pollution controls, implementation of efficiency measures, among other options. Individual control requirements are not specified under a cap and trade program, but each emissions source must surrender allowances equal to its actual emissions in order to comply. Sources must also completely and accurately measure and report all emissions in a timely manner to guarantee that the overall cap is achieved.

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Capacity Factor

Capacity factor is a ratio (usually expressed as a percentage) of power actually generated by an installed wind turbine compared to its theoretical maximum power output.

This is important as the available wind varies considerably by location and you want to pick a location that ensures maximum utilization. Although typically the maximum capacity factor achieved in practice is around 30%. This can be compared to the typical capacity factors of 15% for solar and nuclear which ranges in 60 to 100%. Base load thermal power plants (i.e. fire fired) often achieve 70 to 90%.

When capacity factor is combined with cost of production you get the effective cost of power production for a given energy producing technology; i.e. cost divided by capacity factor. This figure you can use as a basis for a ROI (Return on Investment) comparison.

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Car Clubs

An innovative form of car hire that allows club members to pick up cars from locations around a city and pay for use of a vehicle on an hourly basis.

Supporters of the model argue that it helps reduce car ownership and encourages the public to only to use cars when they need to, cutting carbon emissions and congestion in the process.

The clubs say their cars are cheaper and easier to book than those of rental firms. Car clubs are also increasingly offer low emission cars, such as hybrid vehicles.

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Carbon

Carbon is the chemical element with symbol C and atomic number 6. As a member of group 14 on the periodic table, it is nonmetallic and tetravalent—making four electrons available to form covalent chemical bonds. There are three naturally occurring isotopes, with 12C and 13C being stable, while 14C is radioactive, decaying with a half-life of about 5730 years. Carbon is one of the few elements known since antiquity. The name "carbon" comes from Latin language carbo, coal.

See the full entry on wikipedia

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Carbon Accounting

Umbrella term referring to the act of measuring and reporting on an organization's greenhouse gas emissions.

Carbon accounting procedures typically aim to measure and report on the emissions that a company is directly responsible for, but they can also track emissions that result from a firm's supply chain and the activities of its partners, customers and staff.

The practice is widely regarded as an essential first step towards cutting carbon emissions.

However, critics have argued that its effectiveness is undermined by an absence of international standards, which means that carbon calculations can be undertaken differently from organization to organization.

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Carbon Based Lifeform

This is a form of life which uses carbon as a 'building block' in its cells and chemical processes. Basically all life (be it plant or animal) on Earth is 'carbon based' in one form or another.

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Carbon Black

An amorphous form of carbon, produced commercially by thermal or oxidative decomposition of hydrocarbons and used principally in rubber goods, pigments, and printer's ink.

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Carbon Capture And Storage

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is an approach to mitigating global warming based on capturing carbon dioxide from large point sources such as fossil fuel power plants and permanently storing it away from the atmosphere.

Wikipedia Entry

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Carbon Credit

A carbon credit is a market-driven way of reducing the impact of greenhouse gas emissions; it allows an agent to benefit financially from an emission reduction. There are two forms of carbon credit, those that are part of national and international trade and those that are purchased by individuals.


Carbon Credits have a rather mixed history, as given the nature of the 'arms length' relationship between the producer of the carbon credit and the consumer of the credit; it's often difficult to ensure a consistent 'carbon value' to a given credit as there is no globally unified method of certification and validation of what exactly is a carbon credit. Further political interference in the market to encourage take up of carbon reducing technologies (like Solar Panels) can devalue credits in market - making it less attractive to trade with. Also carbon credits can be held 'off market' so artificially controlling supply. 

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Carbon Cycle

All parts (reservoirs) and fluxes of carbon. The cycle is usually thought of as four main reservoirs of carbon interconnected by pathways of exchange. The reservoirs are the atmosphere, terrestrial biosphere (usually includes freshwater systems), oceans, and sediments (includes fossil fuels). The annual movements of carbon, the carbon exchanges between reservoirs, occur because of various chemical, physical, geological, and biological processes. The ocean contains the largest pool of carbon near the surface of the Earth, but most of that pool is not involved with rapid exchange with the atmosphere.

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Carbon Dioxide Equivalent

A metric measure used to compare the emissions from various greenhouse gases based upon their global warming potential (GWP).

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Carbon Dioxide Fertilization

The enhancement of the growth of plants as a result of increased atmospheric CO2 concentration. Depending on their mechanism of photosynthesis, certain types of plants are more sensitive to changes in atmospheric CO2 concentration.

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Carbon Flux

Carbon movement; movement of organic compounds through an ecosystem. Specifically, the relationship between carbon dioxide absorbed by green plants and carbon dioxide respirated by various organisms.

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Carbon Footprint

Carbon Footprint refers to the the total greenhouse gas emissions that result from a person, organization, product or service over a given time.

It tends to act as an umbrella term for any attempt to measure greenhouse gas emissions and as a result can refer to simply the emissions that result from a single activity, such as flying; the emissions that result from an organization or building over the course of a year; or the full lifetime emissions of a product or organization, including emissions from the supply chain or disposal of resources.

While carbon footprints colloquially refer to the amount of CO2 emitted, the UK Carbon Trust endorses a wider definition and considers all six of the Kyoto Protocol greenhouse gases - Carbon dioxide, Methane, Nitrous oxide, Hydro fluorocarbons, Perfluorocarbons, and Sulfur hexafluoride - when measuring a carbon footprint.

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Carbon Fraud

Carbon Fraud is an aspect of global carbon markets.

Basically due to weak certification and validation processes in carbon markets, it is often quite easy to operate a 'fake' carbon offsetting business; i.e. claiming to run an offshore forest preservation scheme generating carbon credits when no such thing exists in reality (i.e. just pocket the money).

Also, due to the difficult nature of assessing exactly how much carbon some scheme or process offsets, you can also get fraud through over estimating the amount of carbon offset.

It is understood in some regions that organized crime has got involved in carbon markets, and that some markets have had to be suspended to investigate systematic fraud.

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Carbon Intensity

The relative amount of carbon emitted per unit of energy or fuels consumed

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Carbon Leakage

The theory that policy measures designed to reduce CO2 emissions in one country or region will result in an increase in emissions in another country as carbon intensive firms relocate to areas with less demanding environmental regulations.

For example, it is feared that steel plants and other heavy industries faced with planned carbon pricing regulations in the US may move their operations to countries such as China or India that do not have carbon pricing schemes in an attempt to avoid increased costs.

As a result, carbon emissions could simply "leak" from one country to another, resulting in no net reduction in emissions.

The Kyoto Protocol and the EU Emissions Trading Scheme have both been accused of causing carbon leakage, although there is little solid evidence as yet of firms relocating solely as a result of carbon regulations.

One of the primary drivers for a global agreement to tackle climate change is the hope that an international deal would remove the risk of carbon leakage by establishing comparable carbon regulations for all countries.

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Carbon Market

A Carbon Market is a market created from the trading of carbon emission allowances to encourage or help countries and companies to limit their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. This is also known as emissions or carbon trading. Carbon emissions trading is a way of offsetting greenhouse gases produced by polluters.


Under Carbon trading, a country having more emissions of carbon is able to purchase the right to emit more and the country having less emission trades the right to emit carbon to other countries. 

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Carbon Monoxide

A colorless, odorless, poisonous gas produced by incomplete fossil fuel combustion.

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Carbon Neutral

Compensating for the amount of carbon dioxide an entity generates through either obtaining energy from renewable sources or offsetting.

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Carbon Offset

A Carbon Offset is a financial instrument representing a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Wikipedia Entry

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Carbon Pollution

Carbon Pollution refers to the human produced Co2 that is meant to be harming the environment.


The trouble is Co2, in of itself, is not a pollutant, it's a critical element to the majority of life on the Earth via the Oxygen/Co2 exchange between plants and animals. Too little Co2 in the atmosphere will result in the breakdown of this cycle and asphyxiation of most life on the Earth, the critical low point is around 100 ppm (parts per million); before the recent increase in Co2, we were down to 150 ppm. At low levels of Co2 in the atmosphere plants do not thrive or grow as quickly at higher levels (this is why greenhouses pump in Co2 to speed up plant growth).

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Carbon Pool

The reservoir containing carbon as a principal element in the geochemical cycle.

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Carbon Rationing

Limiting the amount of carbon you use each year.

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Carbon Sequestration

The uptake and storage of carbon. Trees and plants, for example, absorb carbon dioxide, release the oxygen and store the carbon. Fossil fuels were at one time biomass and continue to store the carbon until burned.

Carbon sequestration is usually a natural process although machine based techniques can be used to extract or prevent carbon from getting into the atmosphere and put it into long term storage.

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Carbon Sinks

Carbon reservoirs and conditions that take in and store more carbon (carbon sequestration) than they release. Carbon sinks can serve to partially offset greenhouse gas emissions. Forests and oceans are common carbon sinks.

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Carbon Tax

A Carbon Tax is a government imposed taxation on source goods and services in an attempt to reduce the production of carbon into the atmosphere.

Usually implemented as a form of 'at source' taxation; i.e. those whom manufacturer or consume the most carbon pay and everybody else on the supply chain picks up the price increase. This is often encountered with a carbon credit scheme, by which carbon producers can 'offset' their taxable carbon emissions against less carbon intense production methods.

As always with such schemes, the devil is in the detail; in particular there has been problems in the past with carbon fraud.

Note: This equally applies to the energy production sector as basic manufacturing; say if coal is being used as a source of electrical power.

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Carbon Tetrachloride

A compound consisting of one carbon atom and four chlorine atoms. It is an ozone depleting substance. Carbon tetrachloride was widely used as a raw material in many industrial applications, including the production of chlorofluorocarbons, and as a solvent.

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Carbon Trading

The sale and purchase of carbon credits or pollution permits through carbon markets.

The practice is designed to help control carbon dioxide emissions by placing a price on a ton of emitted CO2 and providing members of trading schemes with economic incentives to reduce the amount of pollution they produce.

The market is dominated by cap-and-trade schemes, such as the EU's emissions trading scheme, but carbon trading can also refer to the sale of carbon offsets from emission reduction projects.

In theory, carbon trading mechanisms mean that emission reductions are achieved at the lowest possible cost, as businesses will only purchase carbon credits - effectively paying someone else to cut emissions for them - if they can not deliver emission reductions at a lower cost themselves.

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Carpool

Several people joining in one car to go to school or work. By carpooling or taking public transportation less carbon monoxide and greenhouse gases are released into our air.

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Carrotmobbing

Offering to reward a retailer for good environmental practices by organising people to shop at their store.

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Carrying Capacity

The amount of animal or plant life (or industry) that can be supported indefinitely on available resources; the number of individuals that the resources of a habitat can support. Also called biological carrying capacity.

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Casein

A tasteless white protein distilled from milk and used in dessert toppings, coffee whiteners, adhesives and binders, paint, and plastics. Sensitivity to it plays a role in milk allergies, Asperger's Syndrome, and Autism.

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Catch Basin

A sedimentation area designed to remove pollutants from runoff before being discharged into a stream or pond.

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Caulk

Filling or sealing compound used to make a home or building material more airtight or watertight.

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Ceiling Insulation

Ceiling insulation is the use of a material to reduce the thermal conductivity (or basic heat transference) via the ceiling and into the space beyond it (namely the roof void). Most often this is achieved through the use of strips of material between the ceiling joists that are often several inches think. The material being able to trap a large amount of still air in relation to its size - this 'trapping' prevents the air transfering heat so prevents the heat loss from below.

Also when the roof space heats up during a hot day it similarly prevents the conduction of the heat into the living space below.

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Cellulose

The main carbohydrate in living plants. Cellulose forms the skeletal structure of the plant cell wall.

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Certified Wood

Wood used in building construction that is supplied from sources that comply with sustainable forestry practices, protecting trees, wildlife habitats, streams, and soil.

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CFCs

A fluorocarbon with chlorine; formerly used as a refrigerant and as a propellant in aerosol cans; "the chlorine in CFCs causes depletion of atmospheric ozone"

Wikipedia Entry

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Chain Of Custody

This term refers to tracking the custodianship of wood and wood products along the supply chain, from harvest to distribution of the final product. The purpose of a chain of custody system is to ensure that certified and other forest products originate in a responsibly managed forest. Special record keeping requirements relating to the purchase, shipment and delivery of products must always be maintained.

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Chemosterilant

A chemical that controls pests by preventing reproduction.

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Chilling Effect

The lowering of the Earth's temperature because of increased particles in the air blocking the sun's ray

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Chisel Plowing

Preparing croplands by using a special implement that avoids complete inversion of the soil as in conventional plowing. Chisel plowing can leave a protective cover or crops residues on the soil surface to help prevent erosion and improve filtration.

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Chlorinated Solvent

An organic solvent containing chlorine atoms that is often used as aerosol spray container, in highway paint, and dry cleaning fluids.

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Chlorine Free

Manufactured without chlorine or chlorine derivatives.

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Chlorofluorocarbons

A family of chemicals composed primarily of carbon, hydrogen, chlorine, and fluorine; CFCs were used mostly as refrigerants for freezers, refrigerators, and air-conditioning units, and as industrial cleansing solvents primarily in the high-tech industry. They were also used as an expansion agent in the manufacture of isocyanurate thermal insulation, and some extruded polystyrene foam used for thermal insulation, and some extruded polystyrene foam used for thermal insulation products, and food service containers.

Ozone problem
 
 CFCs' ability to destroy stratospheric ozone through catalytic cycles contributed to the depletion of ozone worldwide. Because CFCs are such stable molecules, they do not easily react with other chemicals in the lower atmosphere. One of the few forces that can break up CFC molecules is ultraviolet radiation, however the ozone layer protects the CFCs from ultraviolet radiation in the lower atmosphere. CFC molecules can then to migrate intact into the stratosphere, where the molecules are bombarded by ultraviolet rays, causing the CFCs to break up and release their chlorine atoms. The released chlorine atoms participate in ozone destruction, with a single atom of chlorine destroying ozone molecules over and over again.
 
 International attention to CFCs resulted in a meeting of diplomats from around the world in Montreal in 1987. A treaty was forged that called for drastic reductions in the production of CFCs. In 1990, diplomats met in London and voted to significantly strengthen the Montreal Protocol by calling for a complete elimination of CFCs by the year 2000.

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Chlorophenoxy

A class of herbicides that may be found in domestic water supplies and cause adverse health effects.

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Clean Energy

Clean Energy is energy which is produced without a negative impact on the environment. Essentially it is neutral in its production of pollution and its consumption of resources.

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Clean Fuels

Blends or substitutes for gasoline fuels, including compressed natural gas, methanol, ethanol, and liquified petroleum gas.

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Clean Graffiti

Alternative phrase for reverse graffiti.

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Clear-Cutting

Removing all the trees from a given area; a destruction of entire forests at a time.

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Clerestory

A row of windows near the peak of the roof. Often used along with an open floor plan that allows the light to bounce throughout the building.

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Climate Change

Climate change is a change in the statistical distribution of weather over periods of time that range from decades to millions of years. It can be a change in the average weather or a change in the distribution of weather events around an average (for example, greater or fewer extreme weather events). Climate change may be limited to a specific region, or may occur across the whole Earth.

In recent usage, especially in the context of environmental policy, climate change usually refers to changes in modern climate. It may be qualified as anthropogenic climate change, more generally known as global warming.

Wikipedia - Climate Change entry

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Climate Change Denier

A Climate Change Denier (usually just Denier) is a derogatory term used to describe a Climate Change Skeptic. Usually a sign that a debate on climate change has degraded into name calling and none science based discussion.

The implication is that the 'Denier' is denying the clearly evident facts supporting man made climate change; where as what they do dispute is the link between mans influence on the climate and the changes in the climate being seen, and how much of that change is purely due to natural processes.

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Climate Change Housing

Climate Change housing refers to housing that has been designed to operate in a way that minimizes its impact in contributing to climate change through reducing the man made component of climate change.

Note: This does not automatically mean that a house so designed is 'green' or 'eco' over the longer term, rather it is focused on minimizing its man made climate change impact first; which can lead to it been green if done correctly. Basically one does not automatically lead to the other.

Note: Beware of carbon 'get rich quick' schemes; i.e. solar power offsetting, etc as these often only work with costly rebates (which a lot of governments are now pulling out of supplying on mass due to them not being financially sustainable over the longer term).

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Climate Change Skeptic

A Climate Change Skeptic is someone who believes, in the context of Climate Change, that the human influence on the climate has been dramatically overplayed compared to natural processes and other external influences (such as the Sun).

Note: It does not mean they do not believe that the climate changes, rather that the amount of that change due to human activity is over emphasized and too 'precise' given the limited time (a few hundred years) we have had to measure the climate compared to the age of the climatic system (millions of years).

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Climate Control

Climate Control refers to the act of controlling the climate within a building and maintaining it over time.

Climate Control can be simple as controlling just the temperature via some form of basic air conditioning system; all the way through to a system that also manages humidity and actively filters the air.

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Climate Disruption

Climate Disruption is essentially a 'rebranding' of AGW caused climate change or global warming to include a larger range of seemingly unusual climatic events to be attributed to mans' influence on the climate system.

Climate Disruption allows events that would otherwise appear to be totally unrelated to global warming, such as excessively cold winters, flooding and storms to be, in the end, attributed to global warming and Co2.

The basic problem with the term Climate Disruption is that it is often 'pinned' on climate events well before any meaningful research or analysis has been done to determine if this is indeed the cause.

Also the fact that we are now better able than any other previous point in history to observe all climatic events means we may be just measuring what passes for a 'normal' frequency and size of climatic events. Also we suspect the large changes in land use and increases in population densities have made what were previously 'normal' climatic events (such as flooding, earthquakes, storms, etc) a lot more damaging in their impact to a population and society. Therefore it is critical that fully analytical research be done on these events independent of the local impact to ascertain if there is indeed any climatic change as the root cause.

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Climate Feedback

An atmospheric, oceanic, terrestrial, or other process that is activated by direct climate change induced by changes in radiative forcing. Climate feedbacks may increase (positive feedback) or diminish (negative feedback) the magnitude of the direct climate change.

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Climate Lag

The delay that occurs in climate change as a result of some factor that changes only very slowly.

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Climate Model

A quantitative way of representing the interactions of the atmosphere, oceans, land surface, and ice. Models can range from relatively simple to quite comprehensive

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Climate Model

A quantitative way of representing the interactions of the atmosphere, oceans, land surface, and ice. Models can range from relatively simple to quite comprehensive

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Climate Outlook

A climate outlook gives probabilities that conditions, averaged over a specified period, will be below normal, normal, or above normal.

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Climate Science

Climate Science is the study of the behaviour of the climate using scientific techniques to discover provable processes and actions within the climate and hence be able to:

  • predict with a degree of accuracy future changes in the climate,
  • advise on how to interact with the climate
Climate Science, although primarily the study of the environment also depends a lot on mathematic and statistical processes to understand the climate - as we can only observe the climate using very sparse measurements.

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Climate Variability

The range of values the climate at a particular location can take over time.

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Climategate

Climategate refers to release/leak/stealing of emails, data and programs related to research into global warming by UEA's Climate Research Unit (CRU); that occurred in 2009 before the Copenhagen Climate Conference (and was therefore probably contributory to its failure). The information obtained was made publicly available for all to see and read through.

It indicates that there good reason to conclude:

  • Problems with data retention and archiving;
  • Weakly documented data processing both in terms of process and actions undertaken.
  • A 'closed ranks' mindset to external criticism and freedom of information
  • Close interdependent relationships between a small set of international researchers leading to peer review and career advancement support occurring within the group.
Which all casts strong doubt over the 'veracity' and quality of the research being done, and hence the validity of decisions subsequently made off it (i.e. leading contributions into IPCC reports, government decision making and other dependent research).

You don't have to take our word for this, read this article .

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Climatic Feedback Mechanisms

A feedback is an enhancement (positive feedback) or a damping (negative feedback) of an initial change, but in this case in a climate system. For example, when less energy reaches the Earth, temperature decreases and the area covered by snow increases. The albedo of the planet decreases, reflecting more energy towards the atmosphere. Consequently less energy is available at the surface, and temperature further decreases. The whole "cycle" from the initial cooling to the further cooling is a feedback, which is a positive feedback in this example.

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Climatology

  • The description and scientific study of climate.
  • A quantitative description of climate showing the characteristic values of climate variables over a region.

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Climax Vegetation

The vegetation that would exist in an area if growth had proceeded undisturbed for an extended period. This would be the "final" collection of plant types that presumably would remain forever, or until the stable conditions were somehow disturbed.

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Cloud Enhancement

The increase in solar intensity caused by reflected irradiance from nearby clouds.

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Coal Cleaning Technology

A precombustion process by which coal is physically or chemically treated to remove some of its sulfur so as to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions.

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Coal Seam Gas

Coalbed methane (CBM) or Coal Bed Methane or coalbed gas is a form of natural gas extracted from coal beds. In recent decades it has become an important source of energy in United States, Canada, and other countries. Australia has rich deposits where it is known as coal seam gas (abbreviated "CSG").

Original Wikipedia entry

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Coeliac Disease

Coeliac disease (spelled celiac disease in North America) is an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine that occurs in genetically predisposed people of all ages from middle infancy onward. Symptoms include chronic diarrhoea, failure to thrive (in children), and fatigue, but these may be absent, and symptoms in other organ systems have been described. A growing portion of diagnoses are being made in asymptomatic persons as a result of increased screening; the condition is thought to affect between 1 in 1,750 and 1 in 105 people in the United States. Coeliac disease is caused by a reaction to gliadin, a prolamin (gluten protein) found in wheat, and similar proteins found in the crops of the tribe Triticeae (which includes other common grains such as barley and rye).

See Wikipedia full entry.

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Cogeneration

The sequential production of electricity and useful thermal energy from a common fuel source. Rejected heat from industrial processes can be used to power an electric generator (bottoming cycle). Conversely, surplus heat from an electric generating plant can be used for industrial processes, or space and water heating purposes (topping cycle).

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Cohousing

Clusters of houses having shared dining halls and other spaces, encouraging stronger social ties while reducing the material and energy needs of the community.

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Coliform Bacteria

Bacteria, if present in sewage, indicate the possible presence of enteric pathogens of sewage origin. Fecal coliform bacteria, a subset of the total coliform bacteria group, indicate specifically the presence of fecal material.

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Combined Collector

A photovoltaic device or module that provides useful heat energy in addition to electricity.

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Combined Cycle

Two or more generation processes in series or in parallel, configured to optimize the energy output of the system.

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Combustion Fire Place

A combustion fire place in its simplest form is just a fire in a hearth that vents through a chimney to the outside world.

Although, technology has moved on and it is now possible to have a fire place with the following attributes:

  • glass fronted door to the actual hearth, so that no risk of 'blow back' putting smoke into the house;
  • a surrounding box to the fire, so that a fan can be used to heat air and circulate that around the room - improving the heating ability of the fire;
  • hot water heating - achieved either by pipes at the back of the fire or in the flu that circulate the hot water through a connected hot water tank (although be careful with this, as incorrect installation can cause a blow out);
  • ability to restrict the flow of the smoke from the fire such that the combustion efficiency is improved and the resultant smoke is less - often termed slow combustion.
In addition to this it is possible to put in roof forced ventilation between rooms to encourage the hot air from the fire to circulate more easily around a property. Although in order for this to work properly you need to avoid having high ceilings (as the heat will never get down to you).

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Command-and-control Regulation

This requires polluters to meet specific emissions-reduction targets and often requires the installation and use of specific types of equipment to reduce emissions.

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Community Solar

This is a solar power plant whose electricity is shared by more than one household. Often framed as an alternative to rooftop solar. It is also known as a solar garden or a shared renewable energy plant.

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Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs

Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) , are more energy efficient than standard incandescent light bulbs and last longer.

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Compensation Point

The point where the amount of energy produced by photosynthesis equals the amount of energy released by respiration.

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Compliance Coal

Any coal that emits less than 1.2 pounds of sulfur dioxide per million Btu when burned. Also known as low sulfur coal.

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Composite Wood

Also called “engineered wood”; made of strands, particles, fibers, or veneers of wood bound with adhesives. Products include particle board, plywood, and medium-density fiberboard (MDF).

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Compostable

A product that can be placed into a composition of decaying biodegradable materials and eventually turn into a nutrient-rich material.  It is synonymous with “biodegradable,” except it is limited to solid materials.  (Liquid products are not considered compostable).

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Composting Toilet

A human waste disposal system consisting of a toilet that uses little or no water connected to a specially built tank in which waste material is decomposed by aerobic bacteria.

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Concentrated Solar Power

Concentrated solar power (also called Concentrating Solar power, Concentrated Solar Thermal, or just CSP) are systems that generate solar power by using mirrors or lenses to concentrate a large area of sunlight, or solar thermal energy, onto a small area. This often heats a medium (such as water) which is used to drive another process to convert the energy into electrical energy.

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Concentrator

A photovoltaic module, which includes optical components such as lenses (Fresnel lens) to direct and concentrate sunlight onto a solar cell of smaller area. Most concentrator arrays must directly face or track the sun. They can increase the power flux of sunlight hundreds of times.

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Condensing Power

Power generated through a final steam turbine stage where the steam is exhausted into a condenser and cooled to a liquid to be recycled back into a boiler.

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Conditioned Space

The space of a building that is controllably heated or cooled, or both, for the comfort of its occupants.

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Conservation Easement

Easement restricting a landowner to land uses that that are compatible with long-term conservation and environmental values.

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Conservation-tillage Farming

Crop cultivation in which the soil is disturbed little (minimum-tillage farming) or not at all (no-till farming) to reduce soil erosion, lower labor costs, and save energy.

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Consumptive Use

The difference between the total quantity of water withdrawn from a source for any use and the quantity of water returned to the source; e.g., the release of water into the atmosphere; the consumption of water by humans, animals, and plants; and the incorporation of water into the products of industrial or food processing.

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Contact Pesticide

A chemical that kills pests when it touches
them, instead of by ingestion. Also, soil that contains the minute skeletons of certain algae that scratch and dehydrate waxy-coated insects.

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Continental Climate

Global warming is the name given to the theory that there is increase in the average temperature of the Earth surface air and oceans since the mid-20th century and its projected continuation.

The exact mechanism of warming is not precisely understood, although it is strongly suspected that Greenhouse gases are to blame, as increasing concentrations of such gases help trap heat in the atmosphere and so raise mean temperatures.

Wikipedia Entry

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Contour Plowing

Soil tilling method that follows the shape of the land to discourage erosion.

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Controlled Burning

A technique sometimes used in forest management, farming, prairie restoration or greenhouse gas abatement.

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Convection

Physics. the transfer of heat by the circulation or movement of the heated parts of a liquid or gas.

Often encountered by people the most when heating a home, as the heat rises to the ceiling. The opposite effect, cooling, can be observed near windows on a cold night, the windows cool the air and it drops. Therefore convection often causes drastic heat loss close to windows. If not dealt with (by the usage of curtains or double glazing usually) this can contribute greatly to heating and cooling costs, as in Summer you will get the opposite effect of heat easily entering the property from the outside via the glass & convection.

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Conversion Efficiency

The proportion of sunlight energy that a photovoltaic cell converts to electrical energy.

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Coral Bleaching

The loss of color from a coral as it expels its zooxanthellae-usually a stress response.

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Cork

Cork isn’t just for wine bottles anymore. Probably the most popular use of cork now is flooring because it provides natural thermal insulation, thus helping to lower energy consumption, and it also has the natural ability to absorb sound and shock. It is a type of flooring that suits most allergy sufferers and is very durable despite its rubbery feel. Did you know there is actually a Cork Oak tree? Well, there is and it’s a pretty cool tree that is responsible for all those wine corks and cork flooring. Cork is harvested by peeling away the bark from the trunk and branches every 9-12 years and does not necessitate the felling of the tree. And, Cork Oak trees do not die when their bark is removed like most trees.

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Cottage Industry

 An industry in which the creation and services of products is home based and not factory based. The products produced are often independent, one of a kind and not mass produced.

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Cottonseed

The seed that comes from cotton plants and is used to produce cottonseed oil, which is then used to make environmentally friendly ink.

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Coupled Model

In the context of climate modeling this often refers to a numerical model which simulates both atmospheric and oceanic motions and temperatures and takes into account the effects of each component on the other. Also referred to as coupled atmosphere-ocean model.

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Crop Calendar

The schedule of the maturing and harvesting of seasonal crops.

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Crop Rotation

Crop rotation is when one grows a series of dissimilar types of crops in rotation, in the same area, in sequential seasons for various benefits such as to avoid the build up of pathogens and pests that often occurs when one species is continuously cropped. Crop rotation also seeks to balance the fertility demands of various crops to avoid excessive depletion of soil nutrients.

A traditional component of crop rotation is the replenishment of nitrogen through the use of green manure in sequence with cereals and other crops. It is one component of polyculture. Crop rotation can also improve soil structure and fertility by alternating deep-rooted and shallow-rooted plants

Crop rotation is practised by all sizes of farming, from the hobbyist to large farms.

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Crop Tree

Usually a conifer tree grown to provide wood products.

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Cross Flow Ventilation

See cross ventilation for full definition.

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Cross Ventilation

Cross ventilation is when a building is set up to utilize the natural winds that blow across a site to assist with cooling the building.

Simply put the windows are so placed and the internal structure of the property (i.e. placement of doors and open spaces) set up as to allow the easy movement of air from one side of the property to the other when the windows and doors are open; so ventilating the property essentially for free.

This is often a key component of passive solar and thermal mass design. In that during a hot Summer night the windows and doors can be opened to let in the cooler night air, this in turn cools the thermal mass, which the following day helps assist in keeping the property cool.


The cross ventilation process can also be automated to ensure maintenance of a steady temperature and fresh air throughout the property always.

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CRU

Climate Research Unit - typically refers to the University of East Anglia CRU after the climategate emails.

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Cryosphere

One of the interrelated components of the Earth's system, the cryosphere is frozen water in the form of snow, permanently frozen ground (permafrost), floating ice, and glaciers. Fluctuations in the volume of the cryosphere cause changes in ocean sea level, which directly impact the atmosphere and biosphere.

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Cultural Eutrophication

This refers to the nutrient enrichment of freshwater and marine environments resulting from the activities of humans.

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Cumulonimbus

A cloud type that is dense and vertically developed and is associated with rain (particularly of a convective nature).

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Curran

A new eco friendly material made from carrots that can be used instead of glass fibre.

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Cyclone Collector

A device that uses centrifugal force to remove large particles from polluted air.

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A free Android app containing all these definitions is now available, called the Green Dictionary. Click here to see the entry on the Android market; or click here if on an Android phone.