key terms


key terms

Environmental Justice

Recognition of the increased likelihood for low-income communities of color to live with greater environmental risks than other communities, especially in high-density urban contexts. Environmental justice work engages these communities to define problems and solutions for flattening this disparity.


Recognition of climate change’s disproportionate impacts on historically marginalized communities, who benefit the least from fossil fuels consumption both locally and around the world. Climate justice work aims to level these impacts and foster comprehensive solutions outlined by affected groups


The removal of the use of fossil fuels from our economy; often used alongside electrification, as in the transition from an economy powered by fossil fuels to one that is run on renewable energy requires decarbonization and electrification. In terms of buildings, it refers to the removal of appliances that run on fossil fuels, such as gas stoves and water heaters and boilers that run on heating oil, and replacing them – known as electrification – with those powered by electricity (ideally from a renewable source, such as solar or wind), such as an induction stove or heat pump.


key termsUsing electricity – ideally from a renewable source, such as solar or wind – as a source of power; often used alongside decarbonization, as in the transition from an economy powered by fossil fuels to one that is run on renewable energy requires decarbonization and electrification. In terms of buildings, it refers to installing appliances that run on electricity, such as induction stoves and heat pumps, instead of fossil fuels.

Sustainable Development

Economic development with concerns for equitable distribution of benefits among people both presently and intergenerationally.

Environmental Resiliency
The ability of ecosystems to respond to periodic disruptions and adapt to gradual change.

Local energy sources that distribute energy. They are connected to the central grid, but can operate and distribute energy independently from it. Microgrids have their own power resources, generations, and loads and can be used as a back–up option in case of blackouts.

Electrical Cooperative

A cooperative owned by community members which distributes electricity to the respective community. In case the cooperative makes margin profit, the amount is reinvested for infrastructure maintenance or renovation; in some cases even dividends are shared among the members.


An area of land that is close to a river or other water stream and is under risk of being flooded during heavy rain falls.

Community Solar

A solar-electric system which is shared by several members of a respective community, installed on a collective residential building.

Green Infrastructure

The process of preserving the ecosystems by increasing the amount and number of greenery in a respective area. Most usually, the green infrastructure is related to treating and managing storm water by installing environmental features, usually trees and plants. Green roof tops and reed beds are some of the examples for green infrastructure. They absorb the storm water and positively affect the capacity of the sewage collection system during heavy rain falls.

Energy Efficiency

Managing, restraining, and ideally reducing the consumption of energy. It can be achieved by installing energy efficiency measures such as outer wall insulation or by using energy efficient home appliances labeled with “energy star.”

Urban Heat Island

A metropolitan area which is way warmer compared to the rest of the areas in the city or to the rural regions. The local heat is produced due to the concentration of buildings, cars, streets, and people as well as a result of lack of greenery.

HDFC Co-ops

Refers to multifamily affordable housing buildings in New York City which are owned by their residents. They receive reduced real estate taxes in exchange for adhering to income and resale restrictions, ensuring that they remain affordable for residents of the community.

Combined Heat and Power

Trigeneration or combined cooling, heat, and power (CCHP) refers to the simultaneous generation of electricity and useful heating and cooling from the combustion of a fuel or a solar heat collector. Cogeneration is a thermodynamically efficient use of fuel.

Energy Poverty

Difficulty in meeting the daily basic energy needs required for cooking, heating, or/and personal hygiene as a result to limited access to energy. It also stands for phenomena in which people, as a result of sufficient income, use dirty or polluting fuels.

Climate Resilience

A constant process of recognizing and highlighting the implications of the climate change over the biodiversity, adapting to the new circumstances and providing/implementing activities for mitigation of the climate change.

Green Economy

It is an economy does not cause any consequences to the environment and the nature, but at the same time is sustainable and produces growth and employment prospects.

Climate Change Adaptation

The process of adapting of ecosystem to the new circumstances caused by the climate changes and implementing activities for limiting the future effects.

Climate Change Mitigation

The process of reducing the impact of the climate change (in focus – limiting the level of green gas emissions) by various tools such as installing new eco-friendly technologies, raising awareness among citizens for rational use of energy or via green urban planning.


The simultaneous production of power and thermal energy. Such systems have great potential in industry, where a significant requirement for electricity is coupled with a large demand for process steam.

Demand Response (DR)

Demand Response is a resource for controlling electricity consumption at times of peak demand. Consumers reduce or shift their electricity usage during peak periods in response to price signals and financial incentives.

Direct Current (DC)

Current that flows continuously in the same direction (as opposed to alternating current). The current supplied from a battery is direct current.

Electrical Energy

The quantity of electricity delivered over a period of time. The commonly used unit of electrical energy is the kilowatt-hour (kWh).

Electrical Power

The rate of delivery of electrical energy and the most frequently used measure of capacity. The basic unit is the kilowatt (kW).

Gigawatt (GW)
One billion watts (see Watt).
Hertz (Hz)

The unit of frequency for alternating current. The standard frequency for power supply in North America is 60 Hz.

A network of electric power lines and connections.
Kilowatt Hour (kWh)

The commercial unit of electric energy; 1,000 watt hours. A kilowatt hour can best be visualized as the amount of electricity consumed by ten 100-watt light bulbs burning for an hour. One kWh is equal to 3.6 million joules.


The total amount of electricity required to meet customer demand at any moment. The load equation fluctuates depending on electricity use throughout any given day.


The process of transporting electric energy in bulk on high voltage lines from the generating facility to the local distribution company for delivery to retail customers.

Alternating Current (AC)

Electrical current in which the direction of the flow of electrons switches back and forth at regular intervals or cycles. This is the current running through power lines and from your wall outlets.

Urban Heat Island Effect

Urban areas can get much hotter than surrounding areas because they have less green space. Green spaces, such as parks or street trees, absorbs heat and provide shade, which can reduce the temperature. Conversely, dense urban areas that have more pavement and other non-green surfaces tend to retain the heat, making temperatures even hotter. Concentration of buildings, motor vehicles, and industry also contribute to the heat effect.