Campus Planning

Common Words and Phrases Relating to
Green Design and Sustainability

"Green" Home Page

Building Commissioning

Building commissioning is the practice of confirming and documenting that building systems function as designed 

Full Cut-Off Lighting Fixtures

Full cut-off fixtures have a horizon feature that prevents illumination upwards.  The total output of the light is directed downwards.  Some fixtures go further and direct the light to specific areas or spots.
Unnecessary uplighting is a significant contributor to light pollution.  However, cut-off fixtures do nothing to stop light from reflecting upwards off of the illuminated surfaces.

HVAC Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning
IAQ Indoor Air Quality
Indirect Lighting Fixture A light that shines directly onto a surface often produces glare that can be annoying or even counter-productive, and may cause eye strain.  Indirect lighting fixtures direct light upwards to reflect light off of the ceiling instead of directly down onto a work surface.  The reflected, or indirect, light produces pleasant ambient illumination.  If the ceiling is clean and white the reflected light may be sufficient to perform desk work without additional lighting other than the occasional task light.
LEED® Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
Light Shelf A light shelf is a horizontal light-reflecting overhang placed above eye-level.  The shelf may be on the interior or the exterior of a building, although exterior shelves also provide shade inside the room.  Light shelves improve daylight penetration and reduce window glare.
Native Plants Native plants are indigenous to a region and usually require less water and maintenance than non-native, or alien, plants.  Many alien plants are also pests that can have an adverse effect on the native plants.  A famous example is the kudzu vine in the southern United States.  An alien plant whose growth rate is phenomenal, kudzu can overwhelm and smother large tracts of plants, bushes, and even mature trees.
Off-Gassing Off-gassing is the release of gases from a solid or liquid as a normal part of the product life cycle.  Off-gassing may occur within hours or weeks, as with paint, or may take months, as with carpet or manufactured flooring.  Products with a warning to "use in a well-ventilated area" have off-gases that may be hazardous when inhaled or may hurt the eyes.  Off-gases may leave a residue on nearby surfaces, such as the film that covers the interior windows surfaces in new cars.   Slow-release off-gases such as formaldehyde have documented health effects on building occupants.
Reflectance Reflectance is the relative ability of a surface to reflect light back into a space.  Light reflectance can increase the actual brightness of a space without the use of additional artificial lighting.  It is also used to increase the amount of natural daylight in interior spaces.  Clean white surfaces may have a 85%+ reflectivity, while beiges and grays may only have 50% reflectance.
Solar Shades Solar shades allow an outside view while reducing glare, solar heat gain, and ultraviolet rays.  They may be fixed in place or motorized.
Stormwater Runoff Stormwater run-off is any water volume resulting from rain or melting snow that leaves the site and enters the sewer system or local watershed.
T-5 Fluorescent Lamp T-5 refers to the size of the standard fluorescent tube used in the lighting fixture. The number 5 is the width of the tube in centimeters. T-5's are more energy efficient than their predecessors, the T-10's, and T-12's. 
T-8 Fluorescent Lamp T-8 refers to the size of the standard fluorescent tube used in the lighting fixture. The number 8 is the width of the tube in centimeters. T-8's are more energy efficient than their predecessors, the T-10's, and T-12's. 
USGBC United States Green Building Council

Planning Division of Facilities Management; Mail #5313
Western Michigan University
1903 W. Michigan Ave.
Kalamazoo MI 49008 USA
(269) 387-8543 or 387-8544 | (269) 387-8818 Fax


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Planning Division; Facilities Management
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Kalamazoo, MI  49008