Glossary

AB 32 – Assembly Bill 32, The Global Warming Solutions Act – was approved by the Governor of California on September 27, 2006, and directs the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to adopt a statewide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions limit equivalent to the statewide greenhouse gas emissions levels in 1990 to be achieved by year 2020.

Absolute emissions – The total quantity of emissions, not expressed in relative terms or as a ratio – in contrast to measures such as Emissions Intensity and Carbon Equivalent Emissions (CO2e).

Adaptation – Changes in natural or human systems (how we live and act) to better tolerate the modifications to the natural environment as a consequence of global warming. Adaptation is distinguished from mitigation to global warming, which involves taking action to remove to the greatest extent possible the source of the problem (greenhouse gases) to lessen their impacts.

Alternative Planning Strategies (APS) – If California’s ARB determines that a region’s Sustainable Communities Strategy will not achieve the GHG emission reduction targets (related to SB 375), a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) must prepare an Alternative Planning Strategy (APS), separate from the RTP, identifying alternative development patterns, transportation projects or transportation policies needed to achieve the targets.

Baseline – An imaginary line or standard by which things are measured or compared, e.g., “the established baseline for the budget”. As referenced by AB 32, the best available scientific, technological, and economic information on greenhouse gas emissions determined for 1990 level of GHG emissions.

Biomass – A renewable energy source is biological material from living, or recently living organisms, such as wood, waste, (hydrogen) gas, and alcohol fuels. Biomass is commonly plant matter grown to generate electricity or produce heat.

Biomimicry – Is a design discipline that seeks sustainable human technologies inspired by emulating nature’s patterns and strategies.

Business-as-usual (BAU) – The scenario in which policies to reduce emissions are not enacted. The business-as-usual scenario assumes growth will occur following existing policies and regulations.

California Air Resources Board (CARB) – California’s Legislature established the Air Resources Board (CARB) in 1967 to attain and maintain healthy air quality, conduct research into the causes of and solutions to air pollution, and to systematically attack the serious problems caused by motor vehicles.

California Climate Action Registry (CCAR) – A private non-profit organization originally formed by the State of California. The California Registry serves as a voluntary GHG registry to protect and promote early actions to reduce GHG emissions by organizations.

California Energy Commission (CEC) – The CEC is California’s primary energy policy and planning agency. It is responsible for promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy.

California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) – Adopted in 1970 and incorporated in the Public Resources Code §§21000-21177. Its basic purposes are to: inform governmental decision makers and the public about the potential significant environmental effects of proposed activities; identify ways that environmental damage can be avoided or significantly reduced; require changes in projects through the use of alternatives or mitigation measures when feasible; and disclose to the public the reasons why a project was approved if significant environmental effects are involved.

Carbon Budget – Is the sum of the total quantity of GHGs that can be emitted by a sector or organization.

Carbon Dioxide – Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is a naturally occurring trace gas in the Earth’s atmosphere, comprising 0.039%. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas in that it absorbs radiated heat from the earth’s surface and re-directs it back as opposed to letting the heat energy dissipate into the atmosphere. With the advent of the age of industrialization (circa 1850), the increased incidence of human activities, specifically the combustion of fossil fuels and deforestation, has resulted in an increase in the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere by 35%. Scientists have determined that this increased concentration of CO2 has contributed to the phenomenon of global warming.

Carbon Dioxide Equivalent (CO2e) – Is the amount of carbon dioxide by weight that would produce the same global warming impact as a given weight of another greenhouse gas, based on the best available science, including from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Carbon Footprint – Is the total set of greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions caused by an organization, event, product or person. For simplicity of reporting, it is often expressed in terms of the amount of carbon dioxide, or its equivalent of other GHGs, emitted.

Carbon Intensity – Carbon intensity of a given activity sector (or energy supply) defined as the amount of carbon emitted per unit.

Carbon Neutral – Is having a net zero carbon footprint by achieving net zero carbon emissions by balancing a measured amount of carbon released with an equivalent amount offset.

Charging station – Supplies electricity for the recharging of batteries of electric and/or hybrid vehicles.

City – “City” refers to buildings, land, and other such items within the geographic boundary of the City of Aliso Viejo. City is comprised of the “community” and “municipal” portions.

Climate Action Plan (CAP) – A planning document developed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions within its jurisdiction. A CAP typically provides a GHG inventory, sets benchmark goals, and provides policy makers with a set of recommendations to reduce GHG emissions. The Green City Plan will serve as the CAP for the City of Aliso Viejo.

Climate Change -Is a long-term change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods of time that range from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in the average weather conditions or a change in the distribution of weather events with respect to an average, for example, greater or fewer extreme weather events. Climate change may be limited to a specific region, or may occur across the whole Earth.

CO2e per-capita – The ratio of carbon-equivalent emissions to population.

Community – “Community” refers to buildings, land, or other such items not owned or operated by the City of Aliso Viejo.

Cool Roofs – Buildings consisting of light colored or reflective roofing material that reduces heat transference to the inside of the building.

Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) – CAFE are a set of federal regulations intended to improve the fuel economy of cars and light trucks in the US. It sets a minimum sales-weighted average fuel economy, in miles-per-gallon, of cars and trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating of 8,500 pounds or less.

Cradle to Grave – Responsibility to monitor every aspect of a product or program through its entire life cycle; from design or acquisition to disposal, or from proposal to termination.

Drought tolerant plants – Plants that require less water than non-drought-tolerant plants. Many drought-tolerant plants are also tolerant of poor-to-average soils, some of which even prefer poor soils. The use of this landscaping can reduce water requirements.

DU – Dwelling Unit.

EIR – Environmental Impact Report.

Embodied Energy – The amount of energy consumed over the lifecycle of a material – including energy used in the manufacturing or extraction, delivery, and the disposal or recycling of the material.

Emissions Intensity – The ratio of GHG emissions to a unit of relevant measurement. It measures the polluting level of a given activity.

Energy Audit – Is an inspection, survey and analysis of energy flows for energy conservation in a building, process or system to reduce the amount of energy input into the system without negatively affecting the output(s).

Energy Star – Is an international standard for energy efficiency in consumer products. Specifications differ from product to product, and are set by the Environmental Protection Agency or the Department of Energy.

Fuel cells – Is an electrochemical cell that converts a source fuel into an electric current. It generates electricity inside a cell through reactions between a fuel and an oxidant, triggered in the presence of an electrolyte. The reactants flow into the cell, and the reaction products flow out of it, while the electrolyte remains within it. Fuel cells can operate continuously as long as the necessary reactant and oxidant flows are maintained.

General Reporting Protocol (GRP) – A collection of procedures and guidelines for calculating and reporting GHG emissions from a number of general and industry-specific categories. It was developed and is maintained by CCAR.

GHG Inventory – An accounting of the amount of GHGs discharged into that atmosphere, usually within a given jurisdiction.

Global Warming Potential (GWP) – The index used to translate the level of emissions of various gases into a common measure in order to compare the relative radiativeradioactive forcing of different gases without directly calculating the changes in atmospheric concentrations. GWPs are calculated as the ratio of the radiativeradioactive forcing that would result from the emissions of one kilogram of a GHG to that from emission of one kilogram of carbon dioxide over a period of time (usually 100 years).

Green – Environmentally friendly.

Greenhouse Effect – A process by which radiative energy (heat) leaving the earth’s surface is absorbed by some atmospheric gases, called greenhouse gases. They transfer this energy to other components of the atmosphere, and it is re-radiated in all directions, including back down towards the surface. This transfers energy to the surface and lower atmosphere, so the temperature there is higher than it would be if direct heating by solar radiation were the only warming mechanism.

Greenhouse Gas (GHG) – The atmospheric gases responsible for causing global warming and climate change through the greenhouse effect. The major GHGs are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N20), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6).

Heat Island – A heat island is an urban area that is significantly warmer than surrounding rural or open space areas caused by modification of the land surface by urban development and removal of vegetation that reduces evapotranspiration in urban areas.

ITE – Institute of Transportation Engineers.

Intensity Allowance – A performance metric that specifies a given quantity of GHG emissions identified with a specific activity, such as metric tons of GHGs per dwelling unit.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – Is a scientific intergovernmental body established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization and the UN Environment Programme (two organizations of the United Nations). The IPCC surveys world-wide scientific and technical literature and publishes assessment reports that are widely recognized as the most credible existing sources of information on climate change. The most recent IPCC Assessment Report (IPCC AR4) was released in 2007 and can be accessed at: http://www.ipcc.ch/.

LEED – Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – a family of green building rating systems maintained by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). This includes (among others) rating categories such as new construction and existing buildings.

Live Work – A building or buildings combiningresidential, commercial, office, or other land uses, where a resident typically resides in one area and works from another area of the building.

Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) – The LCFS is a rule enacted by California in 2007 to reduce the carbon intensity of transportation fuels, as compared with traditional gasoline and diesel. Criteria were set by the Air Resources Board in April 2009, but the rule will not take effect until 2011.

Methane (CH4) – Is a naturally occurring gas and is present in the earth’s atmosphere. The major source of methane is as geological deposits in natural gas fields in the earth’s crust. Another significant source of CH4 is as a by-product from the breakdown (decomposition) of organic matter such as manure and landfills. CH4 is a potent greenhouse gas.

Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) – The body that carries out and puts forth Regional Transportation Plans. They were created by the 1962 Federal-Aid Highway Act and are required for any urban area with a population greater than 50,000.

Mitigation – The action to decrease the intensity of the impacts of climate change and rising temperatures. Mitigation is distinguished from adaptation to global warming, which involves acting to tolerate the effects of global warming. Most often, climate change mitigation scenarios involve reductions in the concentrations of greenhouse gases, either by reducing their sources or by increasing their capture and removal (sinks).

Mixed Use Building or Development – A building or development that is occupied, arranged, designed, or intended for combinations of land uses; including but not limited to residential, commercial, office, business park, civic, cultural, educational, or recreational uses.

Municipal – “Municipal” refers to buildings, land, or other such items owned and operated by the City of Aliso Viejo.

Native vegetation – Plants that are indigenous or naturalized to a given area. This includes plants that have developed, occur naturally, or existed for many years in an area (e.g. trees, flowers, grasses, and other plants). Native vegetation utilized as landscaping can reduce irrigation requirements.

NEV – Neighborhood Electric Vehicle are battery powered, low-speed electric vehicles that can be recharged. NEVs have a top speed of approximately 20 to 25 miles per hour and can be operated on public or private streets that have a maximum speed limit of 35 miles per hour.

OCTA = Orange County Transportation Authority.

Office of Planning and Research (OPR) – Encompassing five main units, (The State Clearinghouse, The Legislative Unit, The Policy and Research Unit, The Office of Small Business Advocate, Advisory for Military Affairs), the OPR is tasked to develop draft CEQA guidelines “for the mitigation of GHG emissions or the effects of GHG emissions. The OPR plays a critical role in the Governor’s Administration, providing legislative and policy research support for the Governor’s office.

Orange County Council of Governments (OCCOG) – One of the 14 regional sub-agencies beneath the Southern California Association of Governments, with jurisdiction over Orange County.

Ornamental plants or garden plants – Typically grown in the flower garden or as house plants. Most commonly they are grown for the display of their flowers. Other common ornamental features include leaves, scent, fruit, stem and bark. Ornamental plants may also be used for landscaping, and for cut flowers. Similarly trees may be called ornamental trees. This term is used when they are used as part of a garden setting, for instance for their flowers, their shapes or for other attractive characteristics. By comparison, trees used in larger landscape effects such as screening and shading, or in urban and roadside plantings, are called amenity trees.

Photosynthesis – Is a naturally occurring process in trees and plants whereby the sun’s energy is used to absorb CO2 out of the earth’s atmosphere and is converted to food with oxygen as a by-product.

Potable water – Drinking water is water that is treated to a sufficient high quality that can be consumed or used without risk of immediate or long term harm.

Reclaimed water – Recycled wastewater (sewage) that has been treated to remove solids and certain impurities and then used for landscape irrigation thereby conserving potable or drinking water.

Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) – A Regional Transportation Plan is a long-term blueprint of a region’s transportation system (related to SB 375).

Renewable energy – Energy that is derived from natural resources that are naturally replenished, such as sunlight, wind, water, or geothermal heat.

Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) – California state regulation requiring that publicly-owned utilities produce 33 percent of their electricity using renewable energy sources. Three California publicly-owned utilities are Southern California Edison (SCE), San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), and Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E).

SB 375 – Senate Bill 375, the Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act, is legislation that directs the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to set greenhouse gas reduction targets for regions of the state and work with California’s 18 metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) to align their transportation, housing, and regional land-use plans with greenhouse gas reductions in mind. The ARB will develop regional greenhouse gas emission reduction targets to be achieved from the automobile and light truck sectors for 2020 and 2035. The 18 MPOs in California will prepare a “sustainable communities strategy” to reduce the amount of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in their respective regions and demonstrate the ability for the region to attain ARB’s targets. ARB would later determine if each region is on track to meet their targets. Builders also would get relief from certain environmental reviews under California Environmental Quality Act if they build projects consistent with the new sustainable community strategies. In addition, cities would get extra time — eight years instead of five — to update housing plans required by the state.

Smart Irrigation – A smart irrigation controller is like a high-tech “brain” for irrigation systems that self-adjusts based on real-time weather and site conditions, including rainfall, wind, temperature, humidity, solar radiation, and soil type to apply just the right amount of irrigation water needed at just the right time. Studies show that a smart irrigation controller can reduce irrigation water use by 25 percent on average.

Solar Energy – Converting sunlight into electrical energy, either directly through the use of current photovoltaic (PV) technology, or indirectly by concentrating solar power (CSP), which normally focuses the sun’s energy to boil water which is then used to generate power.

Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) – The Southern California Association of Governments is a regional planning agency that encompasses six counties: Imperial; Riverside; San Bernardino; Orange; Los Angeles; and Ventura.

Sustainable Development – Development principles that provide direction for future development by employing effective and practical site development and building strategies that minimize adverse impacts to the environment, conserves energy, air, water, and raw material resources, reduces waste and recycles material, and promotes human physiological and psychological health and welfare.

Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS) – As part of their Regional Transportation Plans (RTPs), Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) will have to prepare an SCS that demonstrates how regional GHG targets will be met (related to SB 375).

Transportation Demand Management (TDM) – A strategy for reducing demand on the road system by reducing the number of vehicles using the roadways and/or increasing the number of persons per vehicle. TDM attempts to reduce the number of persons who drive alone on the roadway during the commute period and to increase the number in carpools, vanpools, buses and trains, walking, and biking. TDM can be an element of TSM (see below).

Transportation Systems Management (TSM) – Individual actions or comprehensive plans to reduce the number of vehicular trips generated by or attracted to new or existing development. TSM measures attempt to reduce the number of vehicle trips by increasing bicycle or pedestrian trips or by expanding the use of bus, transit, carpool, vanpool, or other high occupancy vehicles.

Title 24 – California Code of Regulations (CCR), Title 24, also known as the California Building Standards Code, is a compilation of three types of building standards from three different origins:

  • Building standards that have been adopted by state agencies without change from building standards contained in national model codes;
  • Building standards that have been adopted and adapted from the national model code standards to meet California conditions; and
  • Building standards, authorized by the California legislature, that constitute extensive additions not covered by the model codes that have been adopted to address particular California concerns.

TMA – Transportation Management Agency.

Transit Oriented Development (TOD) – Is a mixed-use residential or commercial area designed to maximize access to public transport, and often incorporates features to encourage transit ridership.

Transit Priority Projects (TPP) – A Transit Priority Project a new type of project created by SB 375 that must meet the three requirements: (1): contains at least 50 percent residential use; commercial use, if any, must have floor area ratio (FAR) of not less than 0.75; (2) have a minimum net density of 20 units per acre; and (3) be located within one-half mile of a major transit stop or high quality transit corridor included in a RTP.

ULI – Urban Land Institute.

United States Green Building Council (USGBC) – A non-profit trade organization headquartered in Washington, DC, dedicated to promoting green building practices.

Xeriscape – Landscaping characterized by the use of vegetation which is drought resistant or low water use in character.

Zero Net Energy (ZNE) – A building or group of buildings that produces as much energy as it consumes.