Terms and Definitions

A glossary of terms used in the Delaware Climate Action Plan and in conversations about climate issues.

Accretion: As it relates to wetlands, accretion is the vertical growth of wetland surface elevation. Accretion occurs through two processes:

  1. When sediments are deposited onto wetlands during periods of flooding, and
  2. When wetland roots and decomposing plant material accumulate on top of one another.

Adaptation: The process of adjusting to new or changing climate conditions, both to reduce (or avoid) negative impacts to valuable assets and to take advantage of emerging opportunities.

Alternative fuel: A fuel derived from sources other than petroleum. Most are produced domestically, reducing dependence on imported oil; some are derived from renewable sources. Often, alternative fuels produce less pollution than gasoline or diesel.

Anaerobic digestion: The natural process by which microorganisms break down organic material in closed spaces where there is no air (or oxygen). Anaerobic digestion can occur in a built system, known as a digester, to produce renewable natural gas. Also see: Renewable natural gas

Battery storage technology: Technology that allows electricity to be stored in devices. Such devices can, ideally, manage the amount of power required to meet electricity demand when it is needed most. Battery storage technology is an important component to renewable energy systems. Also see: Grid stability, Renewable energy

Behavioral emergency preparedness: The ability to provide mental health, substance abuse and stress management services to disaster survivors and responders.

Best management practices: Practical methods for preventing and reducing the type of pollution that is carried by precipitation and runoff (such as fertilizers, eroded sediments, livestock and septic waste, and spilled oil and chemicals). A major goal of these practices is to improve water quality. Many of these practices include land management techniques for the agriculture and forestry sectors. Also see: Cover crop

Biogas: See Renewable natural gas

Biological stress: A condition in which a physical, environmental or social pressure affects a living organism’s function or behavior. Biological stress may affect an organism’s ability to grow, reproduce or survive.

“Business-as-usual” scenario: As it relates to the ICF analysis, the “business-as-usual” scenario is the model of Delaware’s greenhouse gas emissions that assumes no additional actions will be taken to reduce emissions beyond existing federal and state policies and programs. Also see: Greenhouse gas emissions

Bond rating: The evaluation of a bond issuer’s financial strength, as measured by its ability to pay back a bond’s principal and interest in a timely fashion. Ratings are typically letter grades. Bond issuers can include government jurisdictions, such as states and municipalities.

Building codes: Sets of regulations that govern the design, construction, alteration and maintenance of structures. These codes specify the minimum requirements to adequately safeguard the health, safety and welfare of building occupants. Also see: Energy conservation codes, EV-ready building codes, Stretch codes

Building energy codes: See Energy conservation codes

Cap-and-invest: A market-based approach aimed at both reducing greenhouse gas emissions and growing the economy. A jurisdiction (such as a state or country) that implements cap-and-invest would set a total greenhouse gas emissions limit (or cap) for either a specific industry or the whole economy. That limit would decrease over time, reducing the amount of pollution from emissions. For an entity to release emissions, it would have to buy “emissions allowances” through an auction. Auction proceeds are returned to the jurisdiction to invest in programs that further reduce emissions. Also see: Greenhouse gas emissions

Carbon accounting: The process by which an organization measures its greenhouse gas emissions (primarily carbon dioxide). Organizations use carbon accounting both to measure their impacts on climate change and to set goals to limit or reduce emissions. Also known as carbon inventorying or greenhouse gas inventorying. Also see: Carbon dioxide, Greenhouse gas emissions

Carbon dioxide: Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a heat-trapping greenhouse gas. Carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere through human activities, such as deforestation and the burning fossil fuels, as well as through natural processes, such as respiration and volcanic eruptions. Also see: Greenhouse gases, greenhouse gas emissions

Carbon sequestration and storage: The process by which plants remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and convert it to another form of carbon, such as plant tissues, roots and leaves. Through this process, carbon is taken from the atmosphere and stored in the plants themselves or in soils. Also see: Carbon dioxide, Carbon sink, Natural and working lands

Carbon sink: Natural features — such as oceans, plants and soils — that serve as “reservoirs” for storing carbon. These reservoirs increase as more carbon is accumulated over time. Also see: Carbon dioxide, Carbon sequestration and storage

Clean energy: Low- or zero-carbon energy derived from sources other than wind and solar. This includes electricity produced from nuclear or hydroelectric plants and energy sources, such as renewable natural gas. Also see: Renewable energy, Renewable natural gas

Climate: The long-term regional or global average of temperature, humidity and rainfall patterns over seasons, years or decade. Also see: Weather

Climate action: Action taken to prepare people, property and economies for climate change. For Delaware, this means anticipating and readying the state for climate change impacts such as sea level rise, increasing temperatures and changes in precipitation patterns. It also means ensuring the state does its part to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that drive the rapid climate change we see today. Also see: Climate change, Climate change impact, Greenhouse gases, Greenhouse gas emissions, Rapid climate change

Climate change: A long-term change in the average weather patterns that have come to define Earth’s local, regional and global climates. Also see: Climate, Rapid climate change, Weather

Climate change impact: An observed or projected effect of climate change that is already affecting, or could affect, people, property and economies. Climate change impacts include, but are not limited to, temperature increases, heat waves, more frequent and longer droughts, changes in growing seasons and precipitation patterns, more extreme weather and sea level rise. In Delaware, the most prominent climate change impacts are sea level rise, increased temperatures and changes in precipitation patterns (including extreme weather events and flooding). Also see: Climate change, Rapid climate change

Coastal acidification: The change in chemistry of coastal waters due to freshwater inputs and excess nutrient runoff from land. Pollution and fertilizers are a common cause of excess nutrients entering coastal waters. Excess nutrients can cause water to become more acidic. Increases in water acidity impact ecosystems and wildlife, particularly when coastal acidification is combined with ocean acidification. Also see: Ocean acidification

Combined sewer system: Sewers that are designed to collect rainwater runoff, domestic sewage and industrial wastewater in the same pipe. During periods of heavy precipitation, the wastewater volume in a combined sewer system can exceed the capacity of the system. This causes the system to discharge excess, untreated wastewater directly to nearby streams, rivers or other water bodies. During situations where the systems are unable to effectively discharge the excess wastewater, the sewer system may back up.

Community solar: A solar energy development model in which multiple participants share, invest in and benefit from a single solar energy system (often a larger, off-site development). Individuals either own or lease a portion of the system and reap the benefits (such as cost savings) from the solar energy generated by the portion they own or lease. Community solar arrangements allow people to benefit from solar energy without having to install their own solar energy systems. Also see: Renewable energy

Conservation easements: A voluntary, legal agreement that permanently limits uses of the land to protect its conservation value.

Cooling station: A location, typically in an air-conditioned or cooled building, that has been designated as a site to provide respite and safety to people during extreme heat events.

Cover crop: A plant that is primarily used to slow soil erosion, improve soil health, enhance water availability, smother weeds and control pest and diseases on crop fields. Cover crops have also been shown to increase crop yields, add organic matter to soil, improve crop diversity on farms and attract pollinators. Planting cover crops in winter is considered a best management practice to improve water quality, as the plants take up remaining fertilizers in the soil; this prevents fertilizers from being carried by runoff into waterways and polluting the water. Also see: Best management practices

Decarbonization (of the electrical grid): Long-term strategies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by phasing out the use of carbon-emitting processes and technologies. This is primarily done by eliminating the combustion of fossil fuels as an energy source, with the end goal of a carbon-free global economy. Also see: Carbon dioxide, Electrification, Greenhouse gas emissions

Distributed renewable energy: Distributed energy describes situations in which electricity is generated from sources at or near the point of use instead of through a centralized generation source, such as power plants. As such, distributed renewable energy is the use of renewable sources, such as wind and solar, to establish distributed energy systems. Also see: Grid stability, Renewable energy

Ecosystem services: Any positive benefit that wildlife or ecosystems provide to people.

Girl Charges Electric Vehicle

Electric vehicle: A type of zero-emission vehicle that has a battery instead of a gasoline tank and an electric motor instead of an internal combustion engine. Also known as an all-electric vehicle or battery-electric vehicle. For the purposes of Delaware’s Climate Action Plan, an electric vehicle differs from a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. Also see: Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, Zero-emission vehicle

Electrification: The process of replacing technologies that use fossil fuels as an energy source with technologies that use electricity instead. Electrification holds to the expectation that electricity is generated using a clean or renewable energy. Also see: Clean energy, Decarbonization, Greenhouse gas emissions, Renewable energy

Emissions: The release of fine solid particles, liquid droplets or gases into the air. For the purposes of Delaware’s Climate Action Plan, emissions primarily refer to greenhouse gas emissions. Also see: Greenhouse gas emissions

Energy conservation codes: Standards that set minimum efficiency requirements for new and renovated buildings to reduce energy use and emissions over the life of the building. Energy codes are a subset of building codes, which establish baseline requirements and govern building construction. Also known as building energy codes. Also see: Building codes, EV-ready building codes, Greenhouse gas emissions, Stretch codes

Energy efficiency: Practices in which older or less energy-efficient appliances, vehicles, building materials and other technologies are replaced with newer, more efficient designs that require less energy. By reducing energy demand, efficiency improvements can both reduce greenhouse gas emissions and realize cost savings in the short-term. Energy efficiency can also be driven by, and carried out in tandem with, electrification. Also see: Electrification; Evaluation, measurement and verification codes; Greenhouse gas emissions

Epidemiology: The method used to find the causes of health outcomes and diseases in populations. Using epidemiology, health experts can study the patterns and risk factors of different health events in relation to specific communities. Epidemiology can be also applied to control health problems.

Equity: Just and fair inclusion in a society where all can participate, prosper and reach their full potential.

EV-ready building codes: Building codes that have electric and plug-in hybrid electric charging infrastructure requirements for new construction projects. Such requirements include specifying electrical capacity and electrical wiring set-ups to make future installation of vehicle charging stations possible. States and municipalities often develop EV-ready building codes to accommodate local vehicle market trends and to meet location-specific climate goals. Also see: Building codes, Electric vehicle, Energy conservation codes, Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, Stretch codes, Zero-emission vehicle

Evaluation, measurement and verification codes: The requirements, procedures and standards by which energy efficiency programs and projects are measured to see whether they are saving energy and money as they were designed to do. These codes assess whether programs are working and help determine energy-saving strategies to pursue in the future. Also see: Energy efficiency

Fish kill: An incident in which there is a notable die-off of fish in a body of water. Many fish kills result from low concentrations of dissolved oxygen in the water.

Riparian Buffers

Forested buffers: The areas next to streams and rivers where trees, shrubs and other plants grow. Forested buffers provide a variety of benefits such as preventing pollution from entering waterways, stabilizing stream banks, providing food and habitat to wildlife, and keeping streams cool during hot weather.

Freight efficiency: Implementing strategies that improve efficiency in freight operations. Efficiency can be measured in terms of lowered emissions, reduced maintenance and cost savings in operations, among other metrics. Examples include, but are not limited to, route optimization, mode switching and use of fuel-efficient vehicles. Also see: Mode switching, Route optimization

Frontline community: Communities that experience the first, and often worst, impacts of climate change.

Greenhouse gases: Gases in the atmosphere that have the ability to trap heat. Common greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, certain fluorinated gases (such as hydrofluorocarbons and chlorofluorocarbons) and water vapor. Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere form what can be thought of as a “heat-trapping blanket” around the Earth. Also see: Carbon dioxide, Greenhouse gas emissions, Hydrofluorocarbons, Methane

Greenhouse gas emissions: The release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere as a result of human activities, particularly the burning of coal, natural gas and oil for energy and heat. Also see: Emissions, Greenhouse gases

Grid stability: Reliability, consistency and balance in the generation and use of power in the electrical grid. Stability must consider the integration of individual- and utility-scale renewable energy in the grid and an increasing need to power electronic devices, such as electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Strategies that can help achieve grid stability include distributed energy, microgrids, battery storage, time-of-use rates, off-peak charging and vehicle-to-grid technology. Also see: Battery storage technology, Distributed renewable energy, Electric vehicle, Microgrid, Off-peak charging, Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, Renewable energy, Time-of-use rates, Vehicle-to-grid technology

Ground-level ozone: Ozone is a gas composed of three atoms of oxygen (O3). Ozone occurs both in the Earth’s upper atmosphere and at ground level. Ground-level ozone is a harmful air pollutant because it causes breathing issues and is a primary ingredient of “smog.” Most ground-level ozone is created when pollutants emitted by cars, power plants, industrial boilers, refineries and chemical plants chemically react in the presence of sunlight.

Hazard reduction: Any sustainable action that reduces or eliminates long-term risk to people and property from future disaster events. Also known as hazard mitigation. Also see: Sustainability

Heat island effect: Scenarios in which urban areas experience higher temperatures than outlying areas. Structures such as buildings, roads and other infrastructure absorb and re-emit the sun’s heat more than natural landscapes, such as forests and water bodies. As such, urban areas, where these structures are highly concentrated and greenery is limited, become “islands” of higher temperatures relative to outlying areas.

High global warming potential: Greenhouse gases warm the Earth by absorbing energy and slowing the rate at which energy escapes into space. Different greenhouse gases have different warming effects based on their ability to absorb energy and how long they stay in the atmosphere. The “global warming potential” measurement was developed to compare the warming effect of a specific greenhouse gas to that of carbon dioxide. Gases with high global warming potential trap substantially more heat than carbon dioxide — sometimes thousands or tens of thousands of times more. Hydrofluorocarbons and methane are examples of high global warming potential gases. Also see: Carbon dioxide, Greenhouse gases, Hydrofluorocarbons

High-tide flooding: Scenarios in which tidal waters, in the absence of storm surge or rainfall, temporarily rise above a level that results in standing water on low-lying roads or seawater entering stormwater systems. Also known as nuisance flooding or sunny-day flooding.

Hydrofluorocarbons: Hydrofluorocarbons are greenhouse gases with global warming potentials that can be hundreds to thousands of times more than that of carbon dioxide. Hydrofluorocarbons are commonly used in refrigerants, fire extinguishing systems and air conditioning building insulation. Also see: Carbon dioxide, Greenhouse gases, High global warming potential

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicle: A type of zero-emission vehicle that is powered by hydrogen and emits only water vapor and warm air. This type of vehicle uses a propulsion system similar to that of an electric vehicle, where energy stored as hydrogen is converted to electricity by a fuel cell. For the purposes of Delaware’s Climate Action Plan, a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle differs from an electric vehicle. Also see: Electric vehicle, Zero-emission vehicle

Interoperability standards: As it relates to electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, interoperability standards are specifications that allow different vehicles, vehicle charging stations and charging station networks to interact with one another. This includes allowing vehicles to use different chargers, chargers to interact with one other (and with their associated charging management systems), and charging service providers to process payments between different charging networks. Also see: Electric vehicle, Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, Zero-emission vehicle

Invasive species: Plants, animals or other organisms that are nonnative (or alien) to a specific ecosystem and whose introduction causes (or is likely to cause) harm.

Living Shoreline

Living shoreline: A structure made up of natural or nature-based materials that is used to stabilize or control erosion along a shoreline. Materials commonly used in living shorelines include native plants and shellfish, oyster shells and biodegradable coconut-fiber logs.

Low carbon fuel standard: A regulatory program modeled after (or similar to) the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard. The California Standard is a regulatory program designed to decrease the carbon emissions per unit energy produced (also called the “carbon intensity”) of the fuels used within the state. The California Standard is also designed to provide an increasing range of low-carbon fuels to reduce petroleum dependency and achieve air quality benefits. Also see: Carbon dioxide, Greenhouse gas emissions

Managed retreat plan: A plan for the voluntary movement and transition of people and ecosystems away from vulnerable coastal areas.

Methane: Methane (CH4) is a greenhouse gas that is a primary component of natural gas. It is the second most emitted greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide and is about 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide in trapping heat in the atmosphere. Human activities that can result in methane emissions include landfills, oil and natural gas systems and wastewater treatment plants. Also see: Anaerobic digestion, Greenhouse gases, Greenhouse gas emissions, High global warming potential, Methane capture, Renewable natural gas

Methane capture: Technologies, such as those in anaerobic digestion systems, that restrict the release of methane into the atmosphere. The methane captured can be used for energy or flared. Also see: Anaerobic digestion, Methane, Renewable natural gas

Microgrid: A local energy grid that can disconnect from the traditional (or main) electrical grid and operate on its own. Also see: Grid stability

Mileage-based user fee: A distance-based fee levied on a vehicle driver for use of a roadway system. Under this fee structure, a user driving on a certain roadway system would pay a per-mile rate multiplied by the number of miles driven. Also known as a vehicle-miles traveled fee.

Mode switching: The partial or complete shift of freight operations from truck to rail. Also see: Freight efficiency

Natural and working lands: Landscapes — including forests, grasslands, croplands, wetlands and urban greenspaces — that sequester carbon and provide significant and cost-effective opportunities to reduce or offset greenhouse gas emissions. Also see: Carbon sequestration and storage, Greenhouse gas emissions

Net-zero emissions: As it relates to greenhouse gas emissions, net-zero emissions is achieved when greenhouse gas emissions from human activities are balanced out by removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, a process known as carbon removal. Carbon removal can be carried out via carbon sequestration and storage as well as through the use of carbon removal technology. Also see: Carbon sequestration and storage, Greenhouse gas emissions

Net-zero energy building/home: Buildings and homes that combine energy efficiency and renewable energy generation to consume only as much energy as can be produced on site through renewable resources over a specified time period. Also known as a zero energy building. Also see: Energy efficiency, Renewable energy

Noxious weed: Any plant designated by federal, state or local government officials as injurious to public health, agriculture, recreation, wildlife or property. Once a weed is classified as noxious, authorities can implement quarantines and take other actions to contain or destroy the weed and limit its spread.

Ocean acidification: The change in chemistry of ocean waters due to an increased uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Due to the increased concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, oceans are absorbing more carbon dioxide. This results in ocean waters becoming more acidic. Increases in water acidity impact ecosystems and wildlife, particularly when ocean acidification is combined with coastal acidification. Also see: Coastal acidification, Rapid climate change

Off-peak charging: Charging an electric or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle at times when the local energy demand (and cost) on the electrical grid is low. Also see: Electric vehicle, Grid stability, Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, Time-of-use rates

Off-shore Wind Farm

Offshore wind energy: Electricity produced by offshore wind turbines that connect to the electrical grid on land through a series of cable systems buried under the sea floor. Electricity powered by offshore wind energy is routed through “coastal load centers” that prioritize where the electricity should go and distribute power to the electrical grid. Also see: Renewable energy

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle: A type of zero-emission vehicle that is a combination of a gasoline vehicle and an electric vehicle; as such, it has a battery, an electric motor, a gasoline tank and an internal combustion engine. For the purposes of Delaware’s Climate Action Plan, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle differs from an electric vehicle. Also see: Electric vehicle, Zero-emission vehicle

Public utility tax: As it relates to Delaware, a public utility tax is a tax imposed on firms that provide steam, gas, electric, telephone, telegraph or cable television services within the state. With the exception of cable television services, receipts from sales to residential users are exempt from this tax. A separate license tax is based on gross receipts of businesses that produce steam, gas or electricity.

Rapid climate change: A nontechnical, colloquial term used to describe the rapid changes in Earth’s climate observed over the last 75 to 150 years. Modern research has shown that human activities, particularly the emission of greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels, are “extremely likely” to be the major driver of these changes. Also see: Climate, Climate change, Climate change impact, Greenhouse gases, Greenhouse gas emissions

Regional transmission organization: An independent, membership-based, nonprofit organization that operates a bulk electric power system in a specific part of North America. The purpose of a regional transmission organization is to ensure reliability and optimize supply and demand bids for wholesale electric power. Eight regional transmission organizations serve the United States, and as of 2009, these U.S.-serving organizations managed 60% of the power supplied to entities that provide electricity to end-use customers. Delaware’s electrical grid falls under the purview of the regional transmission organization PJM Interconnection.

Remediation: The removal of pollution or contaminants from groundwater, surface water or soil to protect human health and help restore environmental conditions.

Renewable energy: Energy derived from resources that are naturally replenishing and virtually inexhaustible in duration but limited in the amount of energy that is available per unit of time. Renewable energy sources include biomass, hydropower, geothermal, solar and wind. Also see: Clean energy, Distributed renewable energy, Offshore wind energy, Renewable energy credits, Renewable portfolio standards, Solar renewable energy credits, Utility-scale renewable energy

Renewable energy credits: A way to track the generation, delivery and purchase of renewable energy in the electrical grid. Each renewable energy credit represents 1 megawatt-hour (a measure of electricity generated) that was produced and delivered to the electrical grid by a renewable resource, such as wind or solar; when 1 megawatt-hour of electricity is generated, a credit is generated as well. Each credit can be kept by the generating entity or sold to someone else. The owner of a renewable energy credit can claim the property rights to the environmental, social and other non-power attributes of the renewable energy generated with that credit. As such, renewable energy credits represent a “currency” of sorts for the renewable energy market. Also see: Solar renewable energy credits

Renewable natural gas: An energy product, primarily consisting of methane, that is produced by the decomposition of organic matter and then processed to purity standards. Renewable natural gas is often captured at landfills, wastewater treatment plants and agricultural facilities and can replace other types of fossil fuels. Also known as biogas. Also see: Anaerobic digestion, Methane, Methane capture

Renewable portfolio standards: A regulatory mandate to increase production of energy from renewable sources (such as wind, solar and biomass) as an alternative to fossil fuel and nuclear electric generation. Delaware’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard requires the state’s electric utilities to get an increasing percentage of their electricity from renewable sources. Also known as a renewable electricity standard. Also see: Renewable energy

Resilience: The ability to “bounce back” after hazardous events rather than merely reacting to impacts.

Rolling easement: A planning and development approach to low-lying coastal lands that is based on the premise that land must eventually give way to rising sea levels. Rolling easements use land-use and legal tools to allow wetlands and beaches to migrate inland as people remove buildings, roads and other structures from land that becomes submerged from sea level rise. Also see: Sea level rise, Wetland migration

Route optimization: The process of determining transportation routes for both time- and cost-effectiveness. This does not necessarily mean finding the shortest route by distance. Route optimization can help manage transportation costs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and move goods more efficiently. Also see: Freight efficiency, Greenhouse gas emissions

Sea level rise: An increase in the average level of the ocean surface, caused primarily by two factors related to global warming: the added water from melting ice sheets and glaciers on land and the expansion of seawater as it warms. Delaware lies in a sea level rise “hotspot,” where sea levels are rising faster than elsewhere in the world due to a combination of both sinking land and climate change. Also see: Climate change impacts, Greenhouse gases, Rapid climate change, Rolling easement

Sequestration: See Carbon sequestration and storage

Solar renewable energy credits: A form of renewable energy credits generated by solar energy photovoltaic systems. Also see: Renewable energy credits

Stretch codes: A building energy conservation code, or compliance pathway, that is more aggressive than a base energy code. Stretch codes are often locally mandated and are compared to the base code enforced at a higher jurisdictional level (such as the state level). However, stretch codes can either be voluntary or mandatory. The main purpose of stretch codes is to help buildings achieve greater energy savings and implement advanced building practices. Also known as reach codes. Also see: Building codes, Energy conservation codes, EV-ready building codes

Subaqueous lands: Land located below the limits of low tide and thus always underwater.

Sustainability: The creation and maintenance of conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony to support both present and future generations.

Tax ditch: A governmental subdivision of the state, formed by a legal process to oversee the drainage of a specific watershed area. A tax ditch organization is made up of all landowners of the watershed area. Tax ditches were created for and designed to move normal water flows off agricultural lands to keep them productive.

Telecommuting: A situation in which someone works for an organization from their home and communicates with the main office and customers primarily by phone or email.

Time-of-use rates: An electricity pricing structure in which rates vary according to the time of day, season and/or day of the week (weekday or weekend/holiday). Higher rates are charged during the peak demand hours and lower rates during off-peak (low) demand hours. This rate structure incentivizes people to shift energy use from peak hours to off-peak hours. Also see: Grid stability, Off-peak charging

Toxicology: The scientific study of the negative effects that chemicals have on living organisms.

Transfer of development rights: A market-based tool that allows communities to focus development in designated growth areas away from natural landscapes, drinking water sources and farmland. Also known as transfer of development credits.

Travel demand management: The implementation of strategies and policies aimed at using transportation resources more efficiently and reducing the need for travel by single-occupancy vehicles. Also see: Vehicle miles traveled

Utility-scale renewable energy: Large renewable energy projects, usually defined as those that are 10 megawatts or larger. Such projects can often benefit from state and local policies and programs that help to address and overcome potential barriers to implementation. Also see: Renewable energy

Vector: Living organisms that can transmit infectious diseases between humans or from animals to humans. Also see: Vector-borne disease

Vector-borne disease: A disease that results from an infection transmitted to humans and other animals by blood-feeding organisms, such as mosquitoes, ticks and fleas. Also see: Vector

Vehicle miles traveled: A measure of the amount of travel for all vehicles in a geographic region over a given period of time. Vehicle miles traveled is calculated as the sum of the number of miles traveled by each vehicle. Also see: Travel demand management

Vehicle-to-grid technology: The technical capability that allows electricity to flow from zero-emission vehicles to the electrical grid. Also see: Grid stability, Zero-emission vehicle

Waterborne disease: A disease caused by microorganisms, biotoxins or toxic contaminants in water that leads to illnesses such as cholera, schistosomiasis and other gastrointestinal problems. Outbreaks of waterborne diseases often occur after heavy precipitation events.

Weather: Atmospheric conditions that occur locally over short periods of time, from minutes to hours or days. Familiar examples include rain, snow, clouds, winds, floods and thunderstorms. Also see: Climate

Weatherization: A range of practices aimed at weatherproofing and installing energy-efficient measures in a building or home to improve the structure’s envelope, heating and cooling systems, electrical system and electricity and fuel consumption. Weatherization programs can include home energy audits, air sealing, insulation, moisture control and ventilation. Also see: Energy efficiency

Wetland: An area where the frequent and prolonged presence of water at or near the soil surface drives and supports a system of plants and animals that are adapted for wet soil conditions. Swamps, marshes and bogs are well-recognized types of wetlands. Also see: Wetland migration

Wetland migration: The natural process by which wetlands gradually shift inland with sea level rise onto formerly dry land. Also see: Wetland

Zero-emission vehicle: A vehicle that has the potential to produce no tailpipe emissions. It can still have a conventional internal combustion engine, but it must also be able to operate without using it. Examples include electric, plug-in hybrid electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Also see: Electric vehicle, Hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle

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