Go Green Glossary

Abiotic
Non-living chemical and physical factors in the environment such as radiation, temperature and water.
Air Pollutant
Any substance in air that could, in high enough concentration, harm humans, animals, vegetation, or material. Pollutants may include almost any natural or artificial composition of airborne matter, whether they be in the form of solid particles, liquid droplets, gases, or in any combination of those forms.
Air Pollution
The presence of substances in the air which produce harmful effects on human health or welfare, or on other parts of the environment.
Airborne Particulates
Particulate matter found in the atmosphere as solid particles or liquid droplets, varying in chemical composition depending on location and time of year. Sources of airborne particulates include: dust, emissions from industrial processes, combustion products from the burning of wood and coal, combustion products associated with motor vehicle or non-road engine exhausts, and reactions to gases in the atmosphere.
Allergen
A substance that causes an allergic reaction in individuals sensitive to it.
Biotic
Relating to, produced by, or caused by living organisms.
By-product
Material, other than the principal product, generated as a consequence of an industrial process or as a breakdown product in a living system. Cork wood flooring is created from the by-products of the cork stopper industry.
Carbon Dioxide
A chemical compound made of the one part of the chemical element carbon and 2 parts oxygen, and is a heavy colorless gas.  Formed especially in animal respiration and in the decay or combustion of animal and vegetable matter, it is absorbed from the air by plants in photosynthesis, and is used in the carbonation of beverages. CO2 is one of the greenhouse gas chemical compounds.
Chemical Compound
A distinct and pure substance formed by the union or two or more elements in definite proportion by weight.
Chemical Element
A fundamental substance comprising one kind of atom; the simplest form of matter.
Climate Change
The term ‘climate change’ is sometimes used to refer to all forms of climatic inconsistency, but because the Earth’s climate is never static, the term is more properly used to imply a significant change from one climatic condition to another. In some cases, ‘climate change’ has been used synonymously with the term, ‘Global Warming’; scientists however, tend to use the term in the wider sense to also include natural changes in climate.
Conservation
Conservation is the wise use of natural resources (nutrients, minerals, water, plants, animals, etc.). Planned action or non-action to preserve or protect living and non-living resources.
Cumulative Exposure
The sum of exposures of an organism to a pollutant over a period of time.
Ecological Impact
The effect that a man-caused or natural activity has on living organisms and their non-living environment.
Ecology
The relationship of living things to one another and their environment, or the study of such relationships.
Ecosystem
A natural unit consisting of all plants, animals and micro-organisms (biotic factors) in an area functioning together with all of the non-living physical (abiotic) factors of the environment.
Environment
The sum of all external conditions affecting the life, development and survival of an organism.
Environmental Sustainability
Long-term maintenance of ecosystem components and functions for future generations.
Exotic Species
A species that is not indigenous to a region. Exotic woods come from other countries than the ones in which they are used for building.
Flammable
Any material that ignites easily and will burn rapidly.
Formaldehyde
A colorless, pungent, and irritating gas, used chiefly as a disinfectant and preservative and in synthesizing other compounds like resins.
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
is a non-profit organization devoted to encouraging the responsible management of the world’s forests. FSC sets high standards that ensure forestry is practiced in an environmentally responsible, socially beneficial, and economically viable way.
Global Warming
An increase in the near surface temperature of the Earth. Global warming has occurred in the distant past as the result of natural influences, but the term is most often used to refer to the warming predicted to occur as a result of increased emissions of greenhouse gases. Scientists generally agree that the Earth’s surface has warmed by about 1 degree Fahrenheit in the past 140 years.
Greenhouse Effect
The greenhouse effect is the rise in temperature that the Earth experiences because certain gases in the atmosphere trap energy from the sun. Without these gases, heat would escape back into space and Earth’s average temperature would be about 60ºF colder.
Sunlight enters the Earth's atmosphere, passing through the blanket of greenhouse gases. As it reaches the Earth's surface absorbs the sunlight’s energy. Once absorbed, this energy is sent back into the atmosphere. Some of the energy passes back into space, but much of it remains trapped in the atmosphere by the greenhouse gases, causing our world to heat up.
Without the greenhouse effect, the Earth would not be warm enough for humans to live. But if the greenhouse effect becomes stronger, it could make the Earth warmer than usual. Even a little extra warming may cause problems for humans, plants, and animals.
Greenhouse Gas
A gas, such as carbon dioxide, which contributes to potential climate change by trapping heat from the sun.
Hazard
Potential for any pollutant to cause human illness or injury.
Hazardous Chemical
An Environmental Protection Agency designation for any hazardous substances which are capable of producing fires and explosions or adverse health effects like cancer and dermatitis.
Hazardous Substance
Any material that poses a threat to human health and/or the environment. Typical hazardous substances are toxic, corrosive, ignitable, explosive, or chemically reactive.
Indoor Air Pollution
Chemical, physical, or biological contaminants in indoor air.
Inhalable Particles
All dust capable of entering the human respiratory tract.
Irritant
A substance that can cause irritation of the skin, eyes, or respiratory system. Effects may be acute from a single high level exposure, or chronic from repeated low-level exposures.
LEED
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™  encourages and accelerates global adoption of sustainable green building and development practices through the creation and implementation of universally understood and accepted tools and performance criteria.
Life Cycle of a Product
All stages of a product's development, from  production, marketing, use, and disposal. Wood flooring has a long, earth-friendly life cycle because not only can it last for decades, but it is likely to last because it continues to be a popular material, generation after generation.
Low VOC (See definition for VOC below)
Paints, adhesives, and other protective finishes are often formulated with solvents (or VOCs) to improve performance and durability. Additionally, cleanup often requires toxic solvents that release additional VOC pollutants. However, increased awareness of possible health risks and overall air quality concerns has led to a demand for products lower in VOC emissions.
At Through the Woods, we are constantly searching for products which are more healthful for you and the environment, while providing you with a beautiful and durable floor.
Microbe
A minute life form; a microorganism, especially a bacterium that causes disease.
Microorganism
An organism that can be seen only through a microscope.
Non-Renewable Resource
A resource that is NOT capable of being naturally restored or replenished, but is exhausted because it cannot not be replaced, such as copper, or because it is being used faster than it can be, such as oil. Their use as material and energy sources leads to depletion of the Earth’s reserves.
Organic
1. Referring to or derived from living organisms.
2. In chemistry, any compound containing carbon.
Organism
An individual living being such as a plant or animal.
Ozone
A gas composed of three atoms of oxygen. Ozone occurs both in the Earth's upper atmosphere and at ground level. Ozone can be beneficial or harmful, depending on where it is found.
Beneficial ozone occurs naturally in the upper atmosphere, 6 to 30 miles above the Earth's surface, where it forms a protective layer that shields us from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays. This beneficial ozone is gradually being destroyed by the use of manmade chemicals. When the protective ozone "layer" has been significantly depleted, it is sometimes called a "hole in the ozone."
In the Earth's lower atmosphere, near ground level, ozone is formed when pollutants emitted by cars, power plants, chemical plants, and other sources chemically react in the presence of sunlight. Ozone at ground level is a harmful air pollutant.
Pollutant
Generally, any substance introduced into the environment that adversely affects the usefulness of a resource or the health of humans, animals, or ecosystems.
Pollution
Generally, the presence of a substance in the environment that because of its composition or quantity, prevents the functioning of natural processes and produces undesirable environmental and health effects.
Post-Consumer
A term used to describe material that is being reused/recycled after it has been in the consumer’s hands such as a newspaper going back to the paper mill to be recycled into new, recycled-content paper products.
Pre-Consumer
A term used to describe material that is being reused/recycled before it ever goes to market such as cork waste material, generated during the manufacturing process, being turned into cork flooring.
Pressed Wood Products
Materials used in building and furniture construction that are made from wood veneers, particles, or fibers bonded together with an adhesive under heat and pressure.
Renewable Resource
A resource that is capable of being naturally restored or replenished, such as trees.
Salvage
The use of materials that have been used before. There is an abundance of wood flooring products from old barns, warehouses and other buildings that can be used to make beautiful flooring.
Source Reduction
The reduction of the amount and/or toxicity of an item before it is ever generated such as buying an item with less packaging or using a non-toxic cleaning substance. We recommend cleaning wood floors with water and vinegar to help reduce the use of chemicals in your home.
Toxic Concentration
The concentration at which a substance produces a toxic effect.
Toxic Dose
The dose level at which a substance produces a toxic effect.
Toxic Pollutants
Materials that cause death, disease, or birth defects in organisms that ingest or absorb them.
Toxic Substance
A chemical or mixture that may present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment.
Toxic Waste
A waste that can produce injury if inhaled, swallowed, or absorbed through the skin.
Toxicity
The degree to which a substance or mixture of substances can harm humans or animals.
Vapor
The gas given off by substances that are solids or liquids at ordinary atmospheric pressure and temperatures.
Volatile
Any substance that evaporates readily.
Volatile Liquids
Liquids which easily vaporize or evaporate at room temperature.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
Emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids, VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. VOCs are emitted by a wide array of products numbering in the thousands. Examples include paints and lacquers, paint strippers, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials and furnishings, office equipment such as copiers and printers, correction fluids and carbonless copy paper, graphics and craft materials including glues and adhesives, permanent markers, and photographic solutions. All of these products can release organic compounds while you are using them, and, to some degree, when they are stored.