Canadian Contractor

Dave Gray   

Green glossary, The world of energy conservation acronyms

Renovation Contractor

The world of energy conservation is filled with acronyms and often confusing titles. Here we break down some of the most common ones to help you talk the talk.

The world of energy conservation is filled with acronyms and often confusing titles. Here we break down some of the most common ones to help you talk the talk.

Active House
Active House is the label used for a pilot project where dozens of homes were built in various countries that combine energy efficiency and sustainability with a key focus on occupant comfort. The latter was achieved in large part by using natural light and fresh air.

Energy Star
Energy Star labels are familiar to homeowners seeking out energy efficient windows, electronics, and appliances, but there are hundreds of builders across the country also constructing entire homes under the Energy Star for New Homes label.

FSC Products
Lumber and other products with a Forest Stewardship Council label have been sustainably harvested.


Green Seal
Dating back to 1989, Green Seal is one of the oldest eco-labelling programs for consumer products. Third-party verification reviews each product’s entire lifecycle.

This is the term for companies and products that falsely claim to be environmentally friendly.

HERS Index
The Home Energy Rating System Index rates a home’s energy consumption compared to other buildings. The lower the score the better, with Net Zero homes (see below) rated at zero.

While Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design is traditionally thought of as a program for ICI projects, the Canada Green Building Council oversees the LEED Canada for Homes program.

MaP Rating
Short for “maximum performance,” a MaP score tallies how many grams of solid waste a toilet can clear in a single flush. The higher the MaP score, the more waste the unit removes.

Net Zero
Housing Net Zero homes produce at least as much energy as they consume, typically through the use of rooftop solar panels. Net Zero Ready homes are built to Net Zero standards, but don’t produce enough energy to offset usage. The Canadian Home Builders’ Association offers Net Zero training.

Nordic Swan
This eco-labelling project certifies that products made in Nordic countries have undergone rigorous measures to minimize environmental impacts throughout their entire lifecycle.

Passive House
Passive homes use energy efficient materials, layout, and design to minimize a building’s energy footprint. (Editor’s joke: If you build an Active House and a Passive House side-by-side, you end up with a Net Zero Home!)

One of the oldest energy efficiency standards, R-2000 was developed by Natural Resources Canada and the Canadian Home Builders’ Association in the early 1980s. Homes built to R-2000 standards are typically 50 percent more energy efficient than conventional homes.

SEER Rating
The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio rating is used to rank air conditioners and heat pumps. The higher the SEER, the more efficiently the unit operates.

Thermal Energy Demand Intensity is a metric used to rate a structure’s heating needs. Insulation, an airtight building envelope, and a heat recovery ventilator work in conjunction to improve a building’s TEDI score. Related metrics include Total Energy Use Intensity (TEUI) and Mechanical Energy Use Intensity (MEUI).

The WaterSense label denotes toilets, faucets, and other plumbing fixtures that use at least 20 percent less water than comparable standard models.


Stories continue below