Technical Glossary - E

Eco-Design: Eco-design consists of building environmental protection into the design of assets and services. It leads to the manufacture and sale of products that are more environmentally friendly throughout their lifecycle, i.e., from the extraction of raw materials and the waste generated in the manufacturing process, to the use and ultimate disposal of the products.

Eco-Efficiency: The ability to produce and delivery desirable, competitively priced goods and services while progressively reducing the ecological impacts of these actions.

Ecological Entity: In ecological risk assessment, a general term referring to a species, a group of species, an ecosystem function or characteristic, or a specific habitat or biome.

Ecological/Environmental Sustainability: Maintenance of ecosystem components and functions for future generations.

Ecological Exposure: Exposure of a non-human organism to a stressor.

Ecological Footprint: The resulting impacts on the environment based on the choices we make (i.e., raw materials selection, energy selection, transportation, etc).

Ecological Impact: The effect that a man-caused or natural activity has on living organisms and their non-living (abiotic) environment.

Ecological Indicator: A characteristic of an ecosystem that is related to, or derived from, a measure of the biotic or a biotic variable, that can provide quantitative information on ecological structure and function. An indicator can contribute to a measure of integrity and sustainability.

Ecological Integrity: A living system exhibits integrity if, when subjected to disturbance, it sustains and organizes self-correcting ability to recover toward a biomass end-state that is normal for that system. End-states other than the pristine or naturally whole may be accepted as normal and good.

Ecological Risk Assessment: The application of a formal framework, analytical process, or model to estimate the effects of human actions(s) on a natural resource and to interpret the significance of those effects in light of the uncertainties identified in each component of the assessment process. Such analysis includes initial hazard identification, exposure and dose-response assessments, and risk characterization.

Ecology: The relationship of living things to one another and their environment, or the study of such relationships.

Economic Efficiency: A term that refers to the optimal production and consumption of goods and services. This generally occurs when prices of products and services reflect their marginal costs. Economic efficiency gains can be achieved through cost reduction, but it is better to think of the concept as actions that promote an increase in overall net value (which includes, but is not limited to, cost reductions).

Economic Poisons: Chemicals used to control pests and to defoliate cash crops such as cotton.

Economies of Sale: Economies of scale exist where the industry exhibits decreasing average long-run costs with size.

Economizer Air: A ducting arrangement and automatic control system that allows a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system to supply up to 100 percent outside air to satisfy cooling demands, even if additional mechanical cooling is required.

Economizer Water: A system which uses either direct evaporative cooling or a secondary evaporative cooling water loop and cooling coil to satisfy cooling loads, even if additional mechanical cooling is required.

Economy Energy (Electricity Utility): Electricity purchased by one utility from another to take the place of electricity that would have cost more to produce on the utility's own system.

Ecosphere: The "bio-bubble" that contains life on earth, in surface waters, and in the air.

Ecosystem: The interacting system of a biological community and its non-living environmental surroundings.

Ecosystem Structure: Attributes related to the instantaneous physical state of an ecosystem; examples include species population density, species richness or evenness, and standing crop biomass.

Ecotone: A habitat created by the juxtaposition of distinctly different habitats; an edge habitat; or an ecological zone or boundary where two or more ecosystems meet.

Edison Electric Institute (EEI): An association of electric companies formed in 1933 "to exchange information on industry developments and to act as an advocate for utilities on subjects of national interest."

Edison, Thomas Alva: The "father" of the American energy industry, Thomas Edison was an American inventor who was born in 1847 and died in 1931. He patented a total of 1,093 inventions - more than any other person in American history. Among the most important were the incandescent electric light bulb (1879), the phonograph (1877) and the movie projector (1893).

Efficacy, Lighting: The ratio of light from a lamp to the electrical power consumed, including ballast losses, expressed as lumens per watt.

Efficiency: The ratio of the useful energy delivered by a dynamic system (such as a machine, engine, or motor) to the energy supplied to it over the same period or cycle of operation. The ratio is usually determined under specific test conditions.

Effluent: Wastewater--treated or untreated--that flows out of a treatment plant, sewer, or industrial outfall. Generally, refers to wastes discharged into surface waters.

Effluent Guidelines: Technical EPA documents which set effluent limitations for given industries and pollutants.

Effluent Limitation: Restrictions established by a state or EPA on quantities, rates, and concentrations in wastewater discharges.

Ejector: A device used to disperse a chemical solution into water being treated.

Electric Capacity: The ability of a power plant to produce a given output of electric energy at an instant in time, measured in kilowatts or megawatts.

Electric Generator: A device that converts a heat, chemical or mechanical energy into electricity.

Electric Resistance Heater: A device that produces heat through electric resistance. For example, an electric current is run through a wire coil with a relatively high electric resistance, thereby converting the electric energy into heat which can be transferred to space by fans.

Electric Radiant Heating: A heating system in which electric resistance is used to produce heat which radiates to nearby surfaces. There is no fan component to a radiant heating system.

Electric Utility: Any person or state agency with a monopoly franchise (including any municipality), which sells electric energy to end-use customers; this term includes the Tennessee valley Authority, but does not include other Federal power marketing agency (from EP Act).

Electrical Efficiency: Electrical output in relation to fuel input.

Electricity: A property of the basic particles of matter. A form of energy having magnetic, radiant and chemical effects. Electric current is created by a flow of charged particles (electrons).

Electrodialysis: A process that uses electrical current applied to permeable membranes to remove minerals from water. Often used to desalinize salty or brackish water.

Electrolysis: Breaking a chemical compound down into its elements by passing a direct current through it. Electrolysis of water, for example, produces hydrogen and oxygen.

Electromagnetic Fields (EMF): Ordinary every day use of electricity produces magnetic and electric fields. These 60 Hertz fields (fields that go back and forth 60 times a second) are associated with electrical appliances, power lines and wiring in buildings.

Electromagnetic Geophysical Methods: Ways to measure subsurface conductivity via low-frequency electromagnetic induction.

Electrostatic Precipitator (ESP): A device that removes particles from a gas stream (smoke) after combustion occurs. The ESP imparts an electrical charge to the particles, causing them to adhere to metal plates inside the precipitator. Rapping on the plates causes the particles to fall into a hopper for disposal.

Element: A substance consisting entirely of atoms of the same atomic number.

Elevation: 1) The height above sea level (altitude); 2) A geometrical projection, such as a building, on a plane perpendicular to the horizon.

Eligible Costs: The construction costs for wastewater treatment works upon which EPA grants are based.

EMAP Data: Environmental monitoring data collected under the auspices of the Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program. All EMAP data share the common attribute of being of known quality, having been collected in the context of explicit data quality objectives (DQOs) and a consistent quality assurance program.

Embedded Costs Exceeding Market Prices (ECEMP): Embedded costs of utility investments exceeding market prices are: i) costs incurred pursuant to a regulatory or contractual obligation; 2) costs that are reflected in cost-based rates, and 3) cost-based rates that exceed the price of alternatives in the marketplace. ECEMPS may become "stranded costs" where they exceed the amount that can be recovered through the asset's sale. Regulatory questions involve whether such costs should be recovered by utility shareholders and if so, how they should be recovered. "Transition costs" are stranded costs which are charged to utility customers through some type of fee or surcharge after the assets are sold or separated from the vertically-integrated utility. "Stranded assets" are assets which cannot be sold for some reason. The British nuclear plants are an example of stranded assets which no one would buy.

Embodied Energy: A combination of the energy required for the process to make a product and the molecular energy inherent in the product’s material content.

Embodied Mass: The total quantity of mass materials required to produce, recycle or dispose of raw materials and products.

Emergency and Hazardous Chemical Inventory: An annual report by facilities having one or more extremely hazardous substances or hazardous chemicals above certain weight limits.

Emergency (Chemical): A situation created by an accidental release or spill of hazardous chemicals that poses a threat to the safety of workers, residents, the environment, or property.

Emergency Core Cooling System (ECCS): Equipment designed to cool the core of a nuclear reactor in the event of a complete loss of the coolant.

Emergency Exemption: Provision in FIFRA under which EPA can grant a temporary exemption to a state or another federal agency to allow the use of a pesticide product not registered for that particular use. Such actions involve unanticipated and/or severe pest problems where there is not a time or interest by a manufacturer to register the product for that use. (Registrants cannot apply for such exemptions.)

Emergency Removal Action: 1. Steps take to remove contaminated materials that pose imminent threats to local residents (e.g. removal of leaking drums or the excavation of explosive waste.) 2. The state record of such removals.

Emergency Response Values: Concentrations of chemicals, published by various groups, defining acceptable levels for short-term exposures in emergencies.

Emergency Suspension: Suspension of a pesticide product registration due to an imminent hazard. The action immediately halts distribution, sale, and sometimes actual use of the pesticide involved.

Emission: Pollution discharged into the atmosphere from smokestacks, other vents, and surface areas of commercial or industrial facilities; from residential chimneys; and from a motor vehicle, locomotive, or aircraft exhausts.

Emission Cap: A limit designed to prevent projected growth in emissions from existing and future stationary sources from eroding any mandated reductions. Generally, such provisions require that any emission growth from facilities under the restrictions be offset by equivalent reductions at other facilities under the same cap.

Emission Control Equipment (Wheelabrator): A category of equipment used at waste-to-energy facilities to meet emission standards and generate reports required by agency regulators.

Emission Factor: The relationship between the amount of pollution produced and the amount of raw material processed. For example, an emission factor for a blast furnace making iron would be the number of pounds of particulates per ton of raw materials.

Emission Inventory: A listing, by source, of a number of air pollutants discharged into the atmosphere of a community; used to establish emission standards.

Emission Standard: The maximum amount of air polluting discharge legally allowed from a single source, mobile or stationary.

Emissions Trading: The creation of surplus emission reductions at certain stacks, vents or similar emissions sources and the use of this surplus to meet or redefine pollution requirements applicable to other emissions sources. This allows one source to increase emissions when another source reduces them, maintaining an overall constant emission level. Facilities that reduce emissions substantially may "bank" their "credits" or sell them to other facilities or industries.

Emissivity: The property of emitting radiation; possessed by all materials to a varying extent.

Emittance: The emissivity of a material, expressed as a fraction. Emittance values range from 0.05 for brightly polished metals to 0.96 for flat black paint.

Emulsifier: A chemical that aids in suspending one liquid in another. Usually, it is an organic chemical in an aqueous solution.

Encapsulation: The treatment of the asbestos-containing material with a liquid that covers the surface with a protective coating or embeds fibers in an adhesive matrix to prevent their release into the air.

Enclosure: Putting an airtight, impermeable, permanent barrier around asbestos-containing materials to prevent the release of asbestos fibers into the air.

End User: Consumer of products for the purpose of recycling. It excludes products for re-use or combustion for energy recovery.

End-of-the-pipe: Technologies such as scrubbers on smokestacks and catalytic convertors on automobile tailpipes that reduce emissions of pollutants after they have formed.

End-use Product: A pesticide formulation for field or other end use. The label has instructions for use or application to control pests or regulate plant growth. The term excludes products used to formulate other pesticide products.

Endangered Species: Animals, birds, fish, plants, or other living organisms threatened with extinction by anthropogenic (man-caused) or other natural changes in their environment. Requirements for declaring a species endangered are contained in the Endangered Species Act.

Endangerment Assessment: A study to determine the nature and extent of contamination at a site on the National Priorities List and the risks posed to public health or the environment. EPA or the state conducts the study when a legal action is to be taken to direct potentially responsible parties to clean up a site or pay for it. An endangerment assessment supplements a remedial investigation.

Endrin: A pesticide toxic to freshwater and marine aquatic life that produces adverse health effects in domestic water supplies.

Energy: The capacity for doing work. Forms of energy include: thermal, mechanical, electrical and chemical. Energy may be transformed from one form into another.

Energy Budget: A requirement in the Building Energy Efficiency Standards that a proposed building be designed to consume no more than a specified number of British thermal units (Btus) per year per square foot of conditioned floor area.

Energy Charge: The amount of money owed by an electric customer for kilowatt-hours consumed.

Energy Consumption: The amount of energy consumed in the form in which it is acquired by the user. The term excludes electrical generation and distribution losses.

Energy Efficiency: Using less energy/electricity to perform the same function. Programs designed to use electricity more efficiently - doing the same with less. For the purpose of this paper, energy efficiency is distinguished from DSM programs in that the latter are utility-sponsored and -financed, while the former is a broader term not limited to any particular sponsor or funding source. "Energy conservation" is a term which has also been used but it has the connotation of doing without in order to save energy rather than using less energy to do the something and so is not used as much today. Many people use these terms interchangeably.

Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER): The ratio of cooling capacity of an air conditioning unit in Btu’s per hour to the total electrical input in watts under specified test conditions.

Energy/Fuel Diversity: Policy that encourages the development of energy technologies to diversify energy supply sources, thus reducing reliance on conventional (petroleum) fuels; applies to all energy sectors.

Energy From waste: Energy recovery of post-recycling waste residue - an alternative to landfill.

Energy Management System: A control system capable of monitoring environmental and system loads and adjusting HVAC operations accordingly in order to conserve energy while maintaining comfort.

Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct05): A comprehensive federal energy law that provided important incentives to renewable energy producers, including waste-to-energy facilities.

Energy Recovery: Obtaining energy from waste through a variety of processes (e.g. combustion).

Energy Recovery: Waste contains energy in the form of calories, which are released by burning and recovered to produce electricity and/or heat and/or steam. This can then be used, for example, for heating buildings. Because of its energy potential, landfill gas is also recovered for heat, steam or electricity production, cogeneration (combined production of electricity and heat), conversion to vehicle fuel, or reinjection into the gas distribution network.

Energy Reserves: The portion of total energy resources that is known and can be recovered with presently available technology at an affordable cost.

Energy Resources: Everything that could be used by society as a source of energy.

Energy Security/Fuel Security: Policy that considers the risk of dependence on fuel sources located in remote and unstable regions of the world and the benefits of domestic and diverse fuel sources.

Energy vs. Capacity: If you’re filling up a bucket with water from a garden hose, the amount of water moving through the hose is the “energy” or wattage, and the water pressure inside the hose is the voltage. The size of the hose is the capacity.

Engineered Controls: Method of managing environmental and health risks by placing a barrier between the contamination and the rest of the site, thus limiting exposure pathways.

Enrichment: The addition of nutrients (e.g. nitrogen, phosphorus, carbon compounds) from sewage effluent or agricultural runoff to surface water, greatly increases the growth potential for algae and other aquatic plants.

Enthalpy: The quantity of heat necessary to raise the temperature of a substance from one point to a higher temperature. The quantity of heat includes both latent and sensible.

Entitlement: Electric energy or generating capacity that a utility has a right to access under power exchange or sales agreements.

Entrain: To trap bubbles in water either mechanically through turbulence or chemically through a reaction.

Environment: The sum of all external conditions affecting the life, development, and survival of an organism.

Environmental Cost: The monetary impact from the negative environmental effects resulting from the choices we make.

Environmental/Ecological Risk: The potential for adverse effects on living organisms associated with pollution of the environment by effluents, emissions, wastes, or accidental chemical releases; energy use; or the depletion of natural resources.

Environmental Exposure: Human exposure to pollutants originating from facility emissions. Threshold levels are not necessarily surpassed, but low-level chronic pollutant exposure is one of the most common forms of environmental exposure.

Environmental Fate: The destiny of a chemical or biological pollutant after release into the environment.

Environmental Fate Data: Data that characterize a pesticide's fate in the ecosystem, considering factors that foster its degradation (light, water, microbes), pathways and resultant products.

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA): An evaluation designed to identify and predict the impact of an action or a project on the environment and human health and well-being. Can include risk assessment as a component, along with economic and land use assessment.

Environmental Indicator: A measurement, statistic or value that provides a proximate gauge or evidence of the effects of environmental management programs or of the state or condition of the environment.

Environmental Movement Systems (EMS): Series of activities to monitor and manage the environmental impacts of manufacturing activities. (Example: ISO 14001).

Environmental Protection Agency, The (EPA): A federal agency charged with protecting the environment. A federal agency created in 1970 to permit coordinated governmental action for protection of the environment by systematic abatement and control of pollution through integration or research, monitoring, standards setting and enforcement activities.

Environmental Risk Assessment (EnRA): An evaluation of the interactions of agents, humans, and ecological resources. Comprised of human health risk assessment and ecological risk assessment, typically evaluating the probabilities and magnitudes of harm that could come from environmental contaminants.

Environmental Site Assessment: The process of determining whether contamination is present on a parcel of real property.

Environmental Sustainability: Long-term maintenance of ecosystem components and functions for future generations.

Environmentally Friendly: A generic statement often used to designate a product or process that has a reduced ecological footprint when compared to other products/processes.

Environmentally Preferable: Products, services or systems that have a lesser or reduced effect on human health and the environment when compared with competing products, services or systems that serve the same purpose.

EP Act: The Energy Policy Act of 1992 addresses a wide variety of energy issues. The legislation creates a new class of power generators, exempt wholesale generators (EWGs), that are exempt from the provisions of the Public Utilities Holding Company Act of 1935 and grants the authority to FERC to order and condition access by eligible parties to the interconnected transmission grid.

Epidemiology: Study of the distribution of disease, or other health-related states and events in human populations, as related to age, sex, occupation, ethnicity, and economic status in order to identify and alleviate health problems and promote better health.

Epilimnion: Upper waters of a thermally stratified lake subject to wind action.

Episode (Pollution): An air pollution incident in a given area caused by a concentration of atmospheric pollutants under meteorological conditions that may result in a significant increase in illnesses or deaths. May also describe water pollution events or hazardous material spills.

Equilibrium: In relation to radiation, the state at which the radioactivity of consecutive elements within a radioactive series is neither increasing nor decreasing.

Equivalent Method: Any method of sampling and analyzing for air pollution which has been demonstrated to the EPA Administrator's satisfaction to be, under specific conditions, an acceptable alternative to normally used reference methods.

Erosion: The wearing away of land surface by wind or water, intensified by land-clearing practices related to farming, residential or industrial development, road building, or logging.

ESCO - Efficiency Service Company: A company that offers to reduce a client's electricity consumption with the cost savings being split with the client.

Estuary: Region of interaction between rivers and near-shore ocean waters, where tidal action and river flow mix fresh and salt water. Such areas include bays, mouths of rivers, salt marshes, and lagoons. These brackish water ecosystems shelter and feed marine life, birds, and wildlife.

Ethanol: An alternative automotive fuel derived from grain and corn; usually blended with gasoline to form gasohol.

Ethanol (also known as Ethyl Alcohol or Grain Alcohol, CH3CH2OH): A liquid that is produced chemically from ethylene or biologically from the fermentation of various sugars from carbohydrates found in agricultural crops and cellulosic residues from crops or wood. Used in the United States as a gasoline octane enhancer and oxygenate, it increases octane 2.5 to 3.0 numbers at 10 percent concentration. Ethanol can also be used in higher concentration (E85) in vehicles optimized for its use.

Ethyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (ETBE): An aliphatic ether similar to MTBE. This fuel oxygenate is manufactured by reacting isobutylene with ethanol. Having high octane and low volatility characteristics, ETBE can be added to gasoline up to a level of approximately 17 percent by volume. ETBE is used as an oxygenate in some reformulated gasoline.

Ethylene: A colorless gas that burns and is an oil refinery product.

Ethylene Dibromide (EDB): A chemical used as an agricultural fumigant and in certain industrial processes. Extremely toxic and found to be a carcinogen in laboratory animals, EDB has been banned for most agricultural uses in the United States.

Eutrophic Lakes: Shallow, murky bodies of water with concentrations of plant nutrients causing excessive production of algae.

Eutrophication: The slow aging process during which a lake, estuary, or bay evolves into a bog or marsh and eventually disappears. During the later stages of eutrophication, the water body is choked by abundant plant life due to higher levels of nutritive compounds such as nitrogen and phosphorus. Human activities can accelerate the process.

EV (Electric Vehicle): A vehicle powered by electricity, usually provided by batteries but may also be provided by photovoltaic (solar) cells or a fuel cell.

Evaporation Ponds: Areas where sewage sludge is dumped and dried.

Evaporative Cooling: Cooling by exchange of latent heat from water sprays, jets of water, or wetted material.

Evapotranspiration: The loss of water from the soil both by evaporation and by transpiration from the plants growing in the soil.

Exceedance: Violation of the pollutant levels permitted by environmental protection standards.

Exceptional Method: An approved alternative calculation method that analyzes designs, materials, or devices that cannot be adequately modeled using public domain computer programs.

Exchange (Electric Utility): Agreements between utilities providing for purchase, sale, and trading of power. Usually, relates to capacity (kilowatts) but sometimes energy (kilowatt-hours)

Exclusion: In the asbestos program, one of several situations that permit a Local Education Agency (LEA) to delete one or more of the items required by the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA); e.g. records of previous asbestos sample collection and analysis may be used by the accredited inspector in lieu of AHERA bulk sampling.

Exclusionary Ordinance: Zoning that excludes classes of persons or businesses from a particular neighborhood or area.

Exempt Wholesale Generator (EWG): Created under the 1992 Energy Policy Act, these wholesale generators are exempt from certain financial and legal restrictions stipulated in the Public Utilities Holding Company Act of 1935.

Exfiltration: Air flows outward through a wall, building envelope, etc.

Exhaust: Air removed deliberately from a space, by a fan or other means, usually to remove contaminants from a location near their source.

Exotic Species: A species that is not indigenous to a region.

Expansion Unit: The installation of a new boiler at an existing waste-to-energy facility, which increases the waste processing and energy generating capacity at the facility.

Experimental Use Permit: Obtained by manufacturers for testing new pesticides or uses thereof

Explosive Limits: The amounts of vapor in the air that form explosive mixtures; limits are expressed as lower and upper limits and give the range of vapor concentrations in air that will explode if an ignition source is present.

Exports : In the solid waste program, municipal solid waste and recyclables transported outside the state or locality where they originated.

Exports (Electric Utility): Power capacity or energy that a utility is required by contract to supply outside of its own service area and not covered by general rate schedules.

Exposure: The amount of radiation or pollutant present in a given environment that represents a potential health threat to living organisms.

Exposure Assessment: Identifying the pathways by which toxicants may reach individuals, estimating how much of a chemical an individual is likely to be exposed to, and estimating the number likely to be exposed.

Exposure Concentration: The concentration of a chemical or other pollutant representing a health threat in a given environment.

Exposure Indicator: A characteristic of the environment measured to provide evidence of the occurrence or magnitude of a response indicator's exposure to a chemical or biological stress.

Exposure Level: The amount (concentration) of a chemical at the absorptive surfaces of an organism.

Exposure Pathway: The path from sources of pollutants via, soil, water, or food to man and other species or settings.

Exposure Route: The way a chemical or pollutant enters an organism after contact; i.e. by ingestion, inhalation, or dermal absorption.

Exposure-Response Relationship: The relationship between exposure level and the incidence of adverse effects.

Extra High Voltage (EHV): Voltage levels higher than those normally used on transmission lines. Generally, EHV is considered to be 345,000 volts or higher.

Extraction Procedure (EP Toxic): Determining toxicity by a procedure which simulates leaching; if a certain concentration of a toxic substance can be leached from a waste, that waste is considered hazardous, i.e."EP Toxic."

Extraction Well: A discharge well used to remove groundwater or air.