CARBON NEUTRALITY: achieving no net greenhouse (GHG) emissions by both minimizing emissions though energy conservation measures and renewable energy use and offsetting remaining emissions through the purchase and retirement of carbon credits.
CARBON FOOTPRINT: the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases associated with a particular activity, institution or individual, often expressed as tons of carbon emitted annually.
GREENHOUSE GAS (GHG): the primary gases (both naturally existing and human-made) that contribute to global warming by trapping more energy in the earth`s atmosphere than would be present otherwise. GHGs include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and others.
GREENHOUSE GAS INVENTORY: an accounting of the amounts and sources of emissions of GHGs attributed to the operations of an institution; an inventory is a detailed means of determining one`s "carbon footprint." Major on-campus emission sources are energy production, purchased electricity, transportation, waste, agriculture and refrigerants.
OFFSETTING: use of market-based credits (e.g., from carbon emitting facilities that have reduced their emissions) to counterbalance emissions from another location. Offsets can be purchased for emissions that are difficult to reduce such as those created by air travel.
SUSTAINABILITY (UNIVERSITY): process or management system that helps to create a vibrant campus economy and high quality of life while respecting the need to maintain natural resources and protect the environment. (Vanderbilt University, 2007)
SUSTAINABILITY (SOCIETY): meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. (Brundtland, 1987)