Carbon Footprint: A representation of the effect human activities have on the climate in terms of the total amount of greenhouse gases produced (measured in units of Carbon Dioxide).

Carbon Neutrality: the potential for net carbon emissions to be zero, all else being equal. For operational activity, this would involve some form of offset

Sustainable Food


Antibiotic Free: Animals that have been raised without the use of antibiotics.

Cage Free: Birds not confined to cages.  Generally, this means that the birds live on the floor or a large barn. 

Fair Trade: Fair trade certification empowers farmers and farm workers to lift themselves out of poverty by investing in their farms and communities, protecting the environment, and developing the business skills necessary to compete in the global marketplace.  Fair trade principles include fair prices,  fair labor conditions, direct trade, democratic and transparent organizations, community development and environmental sustainability.

Farm Cooperative: A business whose membership is limited to persons producing agricultural products that are marketed by the co-op. 

Free Range: The method of farming husbandry where the animals are permitted to roam freely instead of being contained in any manner.   Free Range may apply to meat, eggs or dairy farming.

Grass Fed: Animals that have been raised entirely on grass and are fed no grain

Hydroponics: Growing of plants in water containing dissolved nutrients, rather than in soil.  This process is being used in greenhouses for intensive off-season production of vegetables.

IMP (Integrated Pest Management): Ecologically based approach to pest control that relies on natural mortality factors, such as natural enemies, weather, and crop management.  This is designed to produce healthy crop in an economically efficient and environmentally sound manner.

Natural Foods:generally refers to food or food products which are minimally processed and remain as close as possible to their whole, original state. Because they are less tampered with, natural foods are generally more nutritious than their refined counterparts.

Organic Farming: A production system that completely or mostly excludes the use of synthetically compounded fertilizers, pesticides, or growth regulators.  Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasis the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations (USDA).  According to those standards, organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides, fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge, bioengineering, or ionizing radiation.  Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics.

Organic Labeling:
- “100% Organic” – May use USDA Organic Seal.
- “Organic” – At least 95% of content is organic by weight and may carry the USDA Organic Seal.
- “Made With Organic” – At least 70% of content is organic.  With this you are not able to have the USDA Organic Seal.

rBGH (bBST) Free Milk: Recombinant bovine growth hormone is a genetically engineered hormone injected into dairy cows to artificially increase their milk production.  Note that the FDA has stated no significant difference has been shown and no test can distinguish between milk from rBGH treated and untreated cows.

Sustainable Seafood: Sustainable seafood is from sources, either fished or farmed, that can maintain or increase production into the long-term without jeopardizing the affected ecosystems.

Transfair USA: A non-profit organization who is the only 3rd party certifier of fair trade products in the U.S. and one of 20 members of Fairtrade labeling organization International (FLO).

Green Buildings


Green Building: Refers to designing and building structures that are environmentally sound and follow the tenets of sustainability. The practice of creating healthier and more resource-efficient models of construction, renovation, operation, maintenance, and demolition.

Green Cleaning: Products and services that have a lesser or reduced effect on human health and the environment when compared with competing products or services that serve the same purpose. Green Cleaning is more than the use of environmentally preferable products. It is comprehensive and includes the unique needs of a facility and its occupants, as well as the cleaning chemicals, equipment, paper products, procedures, and training programs.

Green Seal: Green Seal is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to safeguarding the environment and transforming the marketplace by promoting the manufacture, purchase and use of environmentally friendly products and services.

LEED: The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings.
Various certifications include EB: Existing Buildings; NC: New Construction; CI: Commercial Interiors; and CS: Core & Shell

Waste Management


Biodegradable: Capable of being decomposed or broken down by natural biological processes, such as living microorganisms like bacteria or fungi, into simpler, more stable organic compounds.

Closed Loop Recycling: making an old product into the same thing again. Examples include old aluminum cans into new aluminum cans, and old glass jars into new glass jars.

Closed Loop System: a system for collecting used products and then reusing or recycling all collected products and components within a closed loop (example: using plastic from milk jugs to make trash cans).

Composting: Process whereby organic wastes, including food waste, paper, and yard waste, decompose naturally, resulting in a product rich in minerals and ideal for gardening and farming as soil conditioners, mulch, resurfacing material, or landfill cover.

Post Consumer Waste: Waste collected after the consumer has used and disposed of it (e.g., the wrapper from a candy bar)

Responsible Procurement


EPP: Environmentally Preferred Purchasing, a program or policy that helps institutions make decisions regarding environmentally friendly products and services.

PLA Products: Polyactide (PLA) is made from corn which is a renewable resource.  The corn is fermented and distilled into lactic acid.  The lactic acid is transformed into Natureworks PLA which is then formed into packaging, serviceware and consumer products - using ~2/3 less fossil fuels as compared to traditional plastic.

Energy & Water


Gray Water: domestic wastewater composed of wash water from kitchen sinks, bathroom sinks and tubs, clothes washers, and laundry tubs that can be used for non-potable purposes such as irrigation.

Renewable Energy Certificate (also known as Green Tags or Renewable Energy Credits): A certificate that represents a unit of renewable electricity generated that can be used to verify the fulfilment of an obligation to source a certain percentage of renewable generation.  Trading may be allowed so that companies that under-achieve their obligation can buy certificates from those who have over-achieved.

Renewable Energy: Energy resources such as wind power or solar energy that can keep producing indefinitely without being depleted.

Water Harvesting: the capture and use of runoff from rainfall.



Biodiesel: A domestic, renewable fuel for diesel engines derived from natural oils like soybean oil, and which meets the specifications of ASTM D 6751. “B10 Fuel” means a fuel mixture consisting of 10% biodiesel and 90% diesel fuel. "B100 Fuel" is 100% biodiesel.

Ethanol 85: A blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent unleaded gasoline. Ethanol is an alcohol that may be produced from an agricultural foodstock such as corn, sugarcane or wood.

FlexFuel: Vehicles designed to run on either gasoline or a blend of up to 85% ethanol (E85).

Hybrid: a vehicle that uses two or more distinct power sources to propel the vehicle such as an on-board energy storage system (ex: batteries) and a fuel source (ex: gasoline) for vehicle propulsion