Definitions - s

Sanitary Landfill

A solid waste disposal area that protects the environment from leachate.

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Saprotroph

Any organism, esp a fungus or bacterium, that lives and feeds on dead organic matter.

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Savannah

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Savonius Rotor

A type of vertical axis wind turbine that uses half-drum shaped blades to catch the wind and turn a shaft. These generally produce high torque but at low speed, so good for water pumping but they are occasionally used for producing electricity.

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Scientific Method

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Scrubber

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Sea Breeze

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Second Order Consumer

A Second Order Consumer is a consumer in a food chain that consumes the First Order Consumers. They in turn can be consumed by a Third Order Consumer and so on.


In our ecology a second order consumer would be birds, small mammals, and small or medium sized fish.

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Sedimentation Tanks

Wastewater tanks in which floating wastes are skimmed off and settled solids are removed for disposal.

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Septic Tank

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Sequestration

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Settled Science

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Shale Gas

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Shale Oil

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Sick Building Syndrome

Building whose occupants experience acute health and/or comfort effects that appear to be linked to time spent therein, but where no specific illness or cause can be identified. Complaints may be localized in a particular room or zone, or may spread throughout the building.

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Slow Food

Slow Food describes a movement created “to counteract fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world,” as defined on the movement’s website. More broadly, it places an emphasis on local and seasonal produce and an adherence to regional cultures. Its goals also include lobbying against the use of pesticides and genetic engineering of food.

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SLP

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Smart Eco

Smart Eco refers to the usage of computerization and ecologically focused system design to create locally controlled environments that have a reduced impact on the global environment. Examples of this include: computer controlled irrigation systems that monitor weather conditions to minimize water usage; consumer appliances that are aware of power availability and adjust accordingly, and environmental controls that use passive design techniques to maintain a stable temperature.

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Smart Grid

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Smart Meter

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Smog

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Sodium Lauryl Sulphate

Used widely as a major ingredient in cosmetics, skin care products, toothpaste, shampoos and other foaming products. Industrial uses of SLS include garage floor cleaners, engine degreasers and car wash soaps. SLS is also used in testing-labs as the standard skin irritant to compare the healing properties of other ingredients.

According to the American College of Toxicology, both SLS and SLES can cause malformation in children's eyes. Other research has indicated SLS may be damaging to the immune system and may cause potentially carcinogenic nitrates and dioxins to form in the bottles of shampoos and cleansers by reacting with commonly used ingredients found in many products. Also, large amounts of these nitrates may enter the blood system from just one shampooing. Studies have indicated that SLS easily penetrates through the skin and enters and maintains residual levels in the heart, the liver, the lungs and the brain.

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Sodium Perborate

Sodium perborate is a white odorless crystalline compound soluble in water. Its chemical formula is NaBO3.

It is an important ingredient of many laundry detergent powders, laundry bleach additive products and automatic machine dishwash powders. Sodium perborate is also used as a tooth whitener in toothpastes, as an antiseptic, as a deodorant, and as a reactive agent (reagent) in industral processes.

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Soil Erodibility

An indicator of a soil's susceptibility to raindrop impact, runoff, and other erosive processes.

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Solar Chimney

A solar chimney — often referred to as a thermal chimney — is a way of improving the natural ventilation of buildings by using convection of air heated by passive solar energy. A simple description of a solar chimney is that of a vertical shaft utilizing solar energy to enhance the natural stack ventilation through a building.

In its simplest form, the solar chimney consists of a black-painted chimney. During the day solar energy heats the chimney and the air within it, creating an updraft of air in the chimney. The suction created at the chimney's base can be used to ventilate and cool the building below.

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Solar Constant

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Solar Conversion

A Solar Conversation is basically the act of fitting Solar system to a property to utilize the Sun directly, such as fittings Solar Panels and Solar water heating. In addition this could cover fitting indirect solar systems, such as roof space heat recovery systems.

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Solar Cooling

The use of solar thermal energy or solar electricity to power a cooling appliance. Photovoltaic systems can power evaporative coolers ("swamp" coolers), heat-pumps, and air conditioners.

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Solar Energy

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Solar Gain

Solar gain (known also as solar heat gain or passive solar gain) refers to the temperature increase in a space, object, or structure caused by solar radiation. The amount of solar gain increases with the strength of the Sun, and with the ability of any intervening material to transmit or resist the radiation.

Objects struck by Sunlight absorb the short-wave radiation from the light and re-radiate the heat at longer infrared wavelengths. Where there is a material or substance between the Sun and the objects struck that is more transparent to the shorter wavelengths than the longer, then when the Sun is shining the net result is an increase in temperature - hence solar gain.

Solar gain is also a problem for Solar Panels, as when they increase in temperature they progressively lose their ability to convert solar light into electrical power. So Solar Panels need to be kept cool to operate at peak performance.

Wikipedia Entry

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Solar Grove

A solar grove is basically a set of solar panel arrays  so installed as to allow the ground under them to be used as shade. For instance with an open car park this allows electricity to be generated whilst keeping the cars below cool, so saving on air conditioning costs for each car.

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Solar Home

A solar home refers to a house that has been designed specially to benefit from passive solar design principals; i.e. using the Sun to provide heat in winter, whilst avoiding it heating up the house excessively in Summer.

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Solar Hot Water

This refers to the act of using solar energy to heat water. Usually by means of putting a solar panel on a roof through which runs the water to be heated, which is then fed in a circuit to some form of insulated water storage for later use.

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Solar Hot Water System

A solar hot water system consists of a collector, heat transfer circuit and hot water storage system. These can either be combined into one system or into 3 separate components depending on your exact needs. There are many different commercial suppliers.

See Solar Water heating, how it works and the options available article for more information.

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Solar Orientation

Solar Orientation refers to the solar alignment of a structure. Usually this used as one measure to determine the structures ability to harness solar energy. Most often used with respect to solar panels or buildings.

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Solar Panel

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Solar Panel Efficiency

Solar Panel Efficiency is a percentage measure of how Solar Energy from the Sun hitting a solar panel is ideally converted into useful electrical power. This is often given assuming perfect conditions; i.e. no shade, maximum sun and cool. In practice the actual rate of conversion can be somewhat different due to:

  • Shading - even partial shading can have a dramatic effect on the energy produced.
  • Heat - the hotter a solar panel becomes the less efficient it is at converting solar energy into electrical energy.
  • Sun Strength - akin to shading, but if the Sun is behind clouds or low in the sky you will get dramatically less power.

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Solar Power

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Solar Power Generation

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Solar Power System

A solar power system is one which is primarily powered by solar energy.

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Solar Powered

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Solar Resource

The amount of solar insolation a site receives, usually measured in kWh/m2/day, which is equivalent to the number of peak sun hours.

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Solar Roof Tiles

A Solar Roof Tile is a roof tile engineered to function as a roof tile and also as a solar panel at the same time. This way the 'look' of the roof is not adversely impacted by a separate set of solar panels and existing roofing structures can be used to support the new tiles.


The downside with such an approach is that you have no ability to adjust the solar alignment of the tiles to better harness the Sun. 

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Solar Shades

Solar Shades are movable semi-transparent coverings to windows that block out most of the Sun without obstructing the view. They have several benefits:

  • Reduced solar gain within a room, making it easier to keep at a comfortable temperature;
  • Reduction in light glare
  • Privacy - as often those outside cannot see in through the shade.
Shades can either be movable (like a roller blind) or fixed.

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Solar Thermal Collector

A device designed to receive solar radiation and convert it into thermal energy. Normally, a solar thermal collector includes a frame, glazing, and an absorber, together with the appropriate insulation. The heat collected by the solar thermal collector may be used immediately or stored for later use.

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Solar Water Pump

A Solar Water Pump is a water pump which is solely powered by Solar Panels, so as a result only runs during the day. This typically used for raising water into a holding tank to then allow water to distributed by gravity as needed, such as water from a well or river.

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Solvent Extraction

A method of separation used to purify vegetable oils.

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Source Reduction

Refers to products that result in a net reduction in the generation of waste compared to their previous or alternate version and includes durable, reusable and re-manufactured products; products with no, or reduced, toxic constituents; and products marketed with no, or reduced packaging.

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Special Waste

Items such as household hazardous waste, bulky wastes (refrigerators, pieces of furniture, etc.) tires, and used oil.

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Spoil

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SST

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Stack Effect

Flow of air resulting from warm air rising, creating a positive pressure area at the top of a building and negative pressure area at the bottom. This effect can overpower the mechanical system and disrupt building ventilation and air circulation.

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Stand-alone System

Energy generated by a stand-alone system is stored in batteries and then subsequently used. Also known as “off-grid,” these systems are not connected to the utility grid.

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Sterilization

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Storage Density

The capacity of a battery, in amp-hours, compared to its weight or volume. Measured in watt-hours per kilogram or watt-hours per litre.

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Stratosphere

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Streamflow

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Strip Mining

Cutting deep trenches to remove minerals such as coal and phosphate found near the earth's surface in flat or rolling terrain.

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Subsistence

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Subtropical

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Sugar Addiction

Sugar addiction begins when you crave anything that contains this sweet ingredient. Eating sugar triggers production of natural opioids in your brain; such hormones aid in relieving the pain and are triggered in the same way one would consume illegal drugs, leading to a form of 'high'.

According to researchers, the tongue has two sweet receptors, which evolved during early times, when our ancestors ate a low-sugar diet (sugar was hard to obtain, so when it was found as a concentrated energy source you were 'rewarded'). Today, we still have the same tonues, we have not adapted to the presence of many sweet treats. This is why when the receptors in your tongue are highly stimulated, it results in your brain sending out excessive reward signals whenever you eat something with sugar in it, which end up overriding your self-control mechanisms. This leads to addiction

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Sulfate Aerosols

Particulate matter that consists of compounds of sulfur formed by the interaction of sulfur dioxide and sulfur trioxide with other compounds in the atmosphere. Sulfate aerosols are injected into the atmosphere from the combustion of fossil fuels and the eruption of volcanoes like Mt. Pinatubo. Recent theory suggests that sulfate aerosols may lower the Earth's temperature by reflecting away solar radiation (negative radiative forcing). General Circulation Models which incorporate the effects of sulfate aerosols more accurately predict global temperature variations.

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Sulfur Cycle

Cyclic movement of sulfur in different chemical forms from the environment, to organisms, and then back to the environment.

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Sulfur Dioxide

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Sun Orientation

Sun Orientation refers to the alignment of a building or structure with respect to the transit of the Sun across the sky. The orientation determines which walls or windows receive light during the day. This is an important factor in passive solar building design.

You can read more about passive solar and Sun orientation in this article .

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Super Grid

Super Grid is a term referring to continent-wide energy grids that link far flung renewable energy sources with population centers.

Proposals for a European Super Grid, for example, would see solar farms in North Africa, wind farms in the North Sea and Russia, hydro electric facilities in Scandinavia, and geothermal power plants in Iceland all transmit energy to Europe.

Supporters of the proposals argue that spreading the energy grid across such a wide area and sourcing energy from a variety of different renewable sources would overcome concerns over reliability that can undermine efforts to increase renewable energy capacity.

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Superinsulation

Insulating a building to minimize the amount of heat that can escape from (or, in a hot climate, enter) a building.

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Superwindow

One of the new generation of glazing technologies, superwindows are double or triple-glazed window sandwiches which contain a center sheet of coated mylar "low-emissivity' film and are filled with argon or krypton gas. This construction and the coatings on the film allows short-wave radiation (visible light) to pass through, but reflects long-wavelength radiation (infrared or heat) so heat can- not pass through. R-values of 4.5 or more are achieved.

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Sustainable Architecture

A general term that describes environmentally-conscious design techniques in the field of architecture. Sustainable architecture is framed by the larger discussion of sustainability and the pressing economic and political issues of our world. In the broad context, sustainable architecture seeks to minimize the negative environmental impact of buildings by enhancing efficiency and moderation in the use of materials, energy, and development space. Most simply, the idea of sustainability, or ecological design, is to ensure that our actions and decisions today do not inhibit the opportunities of future generations.

This term can be used to describe an energy and ecologically conscious approach to the design of the built environment.

Wikipedia Entry

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Sustainable Development

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Sustainable Energy

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Sustainable Tourism

Sustainable tourism is where the operator and resort or service provider have made steps to ensure the act of tourism has minimal impact on the local environment and society.

This is often a bit of mixed blessing as sustainable tourism and 'eco tourism' has often been applied to businesses which are not really all that eco at the end of day. So therefore do make the effort to double check all claims and validate any recommendations.

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Sustainable Yield

The amount of a naturally self-reproducing community, such as trees or fish, that can be harvested without diminishing the ability of the community to sustain itself.

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Swale

A swale is a low tract of land, especially one that is moist or marshy. The term can refer to a natural landscape feature or a human-created one. Artificial swales are often designed to manage water runoff, filter pollutants, and increase rainwater infiltration.

See Wikipedia entry

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Syncrude

Synthetic crude oil made from coal of from oil shale.

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Synfuel

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Syngas

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Systemic Pesticide

A chemical absorbed by an organism that interacts with the organism and makes the organism toxic to pests.

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