The following list of terms has been adapted from the U.S. Green Building Council documentation.


A product formulated from multiple materials (e.g., concrete) or a product made up of subcomponents (e.g., a workstation).


Base building
Materials and products that make up the building or are permanently and semi-permanently installed in the project (e.g., flooring, casework, wall coverings).

Baseline building performance
The annual energy cost for a building design, used as a baseline for comparison with above-standard design.

Baseline condition
Before the LEED project was initiated, but not necessarily before any development or disturbance took place. Baseline conditions describe the state of the project site on the date the developer acquired rights to a majority of its buildable land through purchase or option to purchase.

Bio-based material
Commercial or industrial products (other than food or feed) that are composed in whole, or in significant part, of biological products, renewable agricultural materials (including plant, animal, and marine materials), or forestry materials. For the purposes of LEED, this excludes leather and other animal hides.

Building exterior
A structure’s primary and secondary weatherproofing system, including waterproofing membranes and air- and water-resistant barrier materials, and all building elements outside that system.

Building interior
Everything inside a structure’s weatherproofing membrane.


Chain of custody (CoC)
A procedure that tracks a product from the point of harvest or extraction to its end use, including all successive stages of processing, transformation, manufacturing, and distribution.

Clean waste
Non-hazardous materials left over from construction and demolition. Clean waste excludes lead and asbestos.

Commingled waste
Building waste streams that are combined on the project site and hauled away for sorting into recyclable streams. Also known as single-stream recycling.

Construction impact zone
The project’s development footprint plus the areas around the improvement where construction crews, equipment, and/or materials are staged and moved during construction.

Cradle-to-gate assessment
Analysis of a product’s partial life cycle, from resource extraction (cradle) to the factory gate (before it is transported for distribution and sale). It omits the use and the disposal phases of the product.


Dedicated storage
A designated area in a building space or a central facility that is sized and allocated for a specific task, such as the collection of recyclable waste. Signage often indicates the type of recyclable waste stored there. Some waste streams, such as mercury-based light bulbs, sensitive paper documents, biomedical waste, or batteries, may require particular handling or disposal methods. Consult the municipality’s safe storage and disposal procedures or use guidelines posted on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website, at


The exterior plus semi-exterior portions of the building. Exterior consists of the elements of a building that separate conditioned spaces from the outside (i.e., the wall assembly). Semi-exterior consists of the elements of a building that separate conditioned space from unconditioned space or that encloses semi-heated space through which thermal energy may be transferred to or from the exterior or conditioned or unconditioned spaces (e.g., attic, crawl space or basement).

Environmental product declaration
A statement that the item meets the environmental requirements of ISO 14021–1999, ISO 14025–2006 and EN 15804, or ISO 21930–2007

Extended producer responsibility
Measures undertaken by the maker of a product to accept its own and sometimes other manufacturers’ products as postconsumer waste at the end of the products’ useful life. Producers recover and recycle the materials for use in new products of the same type. To count toward credit compliance, a program must be widely available. For carpet, extended producer responsibility must be consistent with NSF/ANSI 140–2007. Also known as closed-loop program or product take-back.


Hazardous material
Any item or agent (biological, chemical, physical) that has the potential to cause harm to humans, animals, or the environment, either by itself or through interaction with other factors.

Historic building
A building or structure with historic, architectural, engineering, archaeological, or cultural significance that is listed or determined to be eligible as a historic structure or building, or as a contributing building or structure in a designated historic district. The historic designation must be made by a local historic preservation review board or similar body, and the structure must be listed in a state register of historic places, be listed in the National Register of Historic Places (or a local equivalent outside the U.S.), or have been determined eligible for listing.

Homogeneous material
An item that consists of only one material throughout or a combination of multiple materials that cannot be mechanically disjointed, excluding surface coatings.


Interior floor finish
All the layers applied over a finished subfloor or stairs, including stair treads and risers, ramps, and other walking surfaces. Interior finish excludes building structural members, such as beams, trusses, studs, or subfloors, or similar items. Interior finish also excludes nonfull spread wet coatings or adhesives.

Interior wall and ceiling finish
All the layers comprising the exposed interior surfaces of buildings, including fixed walls, fixed partitions, columns, exposed ceilings, and interior wainscoting, panelling, interior trim or other finish applied mechanically or for decoration, acoustical correction, surface fire resistance, or similar purposes.


Life-cycle assessment
An evaluation of the environmental effects of a product from cradle to grave, as defined by ISO 14040–2006 and ISO 14044–2006

Life-cycle inventory
A database that defines the environmental effects (inputs and outputs) for each step in a material’s or assembly’s life cycle. The database is specific to countries and regions within countries.


Preconsumer recycled content
Matter diverted from the waste stream during the manufacturing process, determined as the percentage of material, by weight. Examples include planer shavings, sawdust, bagasse, walnut shells, culls, trimmed materials, overissue publications, and obsolete inventories. The designation excludes rework, regrind, or scrap materials capable of being reclaimed within the same process that generated them (ISO 14021). Formerly known as post-industrial content.

Premature obsolescence
The wearing out or disuse of components or materials whose service life exceeds their design life. For example, a material with a potential life of 30 years is intentionally designed to last only 15 years, such that its remaining 15 years of service is potentially wasted. In contrast, components whose service life is the same as their expected use are utilized to their maximum potential.

Product (permanently installed building product)
An item that arrives on the project site either as a finished element ready for installation or as a component to another item assembled on-site. The product unit is defined by the functional requirement for use in the project; this includes the physical components and services needed to serve the intended function of the permanently installed building product. In addition, similar product within a specification, each contributes as a separate product.


Raw material
the basic substance from which products are made, such as concrete, glass, gypsum, masonry, metals, recycled materials (e.g., plastics and metals), oil (petroleum, polylactic acid), stone, agrifiber, bamboo, and wood.

Recycled content
Defined in accordance with the International Organization of Standards document ISO 14021 – Environmental labels and declarations – Self-declared environmental claims (Type II environmental labelling).

Refurbished material
An item that has completed its life cycle and is prepared for reuse without substantial alteration of its form. Refurbishing involves renovating, repairing, restoring, or generally improving the appearance, performance, quality, functionality, or value of a product.


Salvaged material
A construction component recovered from existing buildings or construction sites and reused. Common salvaged materials include structural beams and posts, flooring, doors, cabinetry, brick, and decorative items.

Elements carrying either vertical or horizontal loads (e.g., walls, roofs, and floors) that are considered structurally sound and non-hazardous.


Waste diversion
A management activity that disposes of waste through methods other than incineration or landfilling. Examples include reuse and recycling.

The conversion of non-recyclable waste materials into usable heat, electricity, or fuel through a variety of processes, including combustion, gasification, pyrolization, anaerobic digestion, and landfill gas (LFG) recovery.

Plant-based materials that are eligible for certification under the Forest Stewardship Council. Examples include bamboo and palm (monocots) as well as hardwoods (angiosperms) and softwoods (gymnosperms).