Common acronyms & vocabulary


Environmental Protection Agency. Part of the U.S. Federal government that creates and enforces regulations in regards to human and environmental health.


Department of Energy Resources. State of Massachusetts government division (an agency of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs). Administrator of the Green Communities Program.

ICLEI ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability. The world’s leading network of over 1,000 cities, towns and metropolises committed​ to building​ a sustainable future.
IPCC The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. A scientific body under the auspices of the United Nations (UN). It reviews and assesses the most recent scientific, technical and socio-economic information produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of climate change.
Programs and grants
ARRA American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. A U.S. Government ‘stimulus’ package (created as a result of economic recession) signed into effect in 2009 with a goal of creating new jobs and saving existing ones; spurring  economic activity and investing in long-term growth; as well as fostering accountability and transparency in government spending.
CAP Climate Action Plan. A plan providing a calculated baseline of an organization’s greenhouse gas emission, setting a goal of reducing those emissions and outlining steps to achieve this goal.   
EECBG Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant. A grant provided by the U.S. government via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in order to develop, promote, implement, and manage energy efficiency and conservation projects.
RRP Residential Rebate Pilot. Central focus of the City’s first Green Community Grant. The goal of the Pilot was to provide a financial incentive to encourage investment by residents in energy efficient building improvements, and to use lessons learned from the program to market energy efficiency to the broader community.
Tools and metrics
EPS Energy Performance Scorecard. A metric used by the Residential Rebate Pilot applicants in order to assess energy efficiency of their home before and after improvements. The Scorecard was generated by a Mass Save® Participating Home Performance Contractor using Earth Advantage’s EPS Program Software.
HERS Home Energy Rating System. A metric used by home energy assessors to quantify the relative energy efficiency of a home.  HERS was originally chosen as a pre-requisite to participation in the Residential Rebate Pilot because it was the energy scoring system needed to determine compliance with the Building ‘Energy Stretch’ Code for new building construction or major renovations.  
LEED Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. One of the most common and recognized green building certification programs in the country.  
MEI MassEnergyInsight. A municipal energy inventory and analysis tool developed by the Green Communities Division (DOER) and offered to municipalities and other public entities free of charge.
CFL Compact flourescent light. Compared to a general-service incadescent lamp giving the same amount of light, CFLs use one-fifth to one-third the electric power, and last eighteen times longer.
DC Direct current. Type of electrical energy flow produced by a solar panel, for example, in which current moves in one direction. The output of solar power generation systems is then inverted (via an inverter) to alternating current (AC) that can be used throughout the electrical grid in the United States.
ECM Energy Conservation Measure. Building improvement projects resulting in measured fuel and energy savings. Each ECM has a cost and a simple payback (return on investment) associated with it. ECMs may include insulation work, energy efficient heating and cooling equipment, energy efficient lighting, water saving technology, and renewable energy projects. ECMs are at the core of the Energy Savings Performance Contract. The definition evolved over time and now includes non-building measures that would result in fuel and energy savings (e.g. street-lights) as well as renewable energy installations.
ESCo Energy Service Company. A company that acts as project developer for a comprehensive range of energy conservation measures and assumes the technical and performance risks associated with a project. It uses performance-based contracting methodology, and its compensation is directly linked to the actual energy cost savings.
ESPC Energy Savings Performance Contract. An alternative financing mechanism designed to accelerate investment in cost effective energy conservation measures in existing buildings. Debt payments for projects (such as energy-efficiency retrofits and renewable energy technologies)  are tied to the energy cost savings guaranteed for the project, so the agency pays for the capital improvements of the ESPC project with the money saved by the project itself.
FY Fiscal Year. The period that an organization uses to calculate yearly financial statements, which may not necessarily coincide with the typical calendar year. For the City of Worcester, it is July 1st of one year through June 30th of the following year (e.g. FY 2015 = July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015).
GHG Greenhouse Gasses. Primarily a mixture of water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone. The steady marked increase in greenhouse gases is largely due to human influence, with contributions from the burning of fossil fuels, wood, and solid waste, in addition to emissions from the decomposition of landfills, raising of livestock, and other industrial activities.
IGA Investment Grade Audit. Assessment of energy use in a building/facility followed by identification and evaluation of energy saving opportunities.
kW Kilowatt. Measurement of electrical power (or output) in a system (such as a photovoltaic array). (Comparable/equivalent to a diameter of a pipe from which wthe ater is flowing)
kWh Kilowatt-hour. Measurement of total electrical energy produced or consumed. E.g. – Measure of total electrical consumption on an electrical bill.(Comparable/equivalent to the total amount of water leaving a pipe over a period of time.)
LED Light emitting diode. High efficiency device that utilizes semiconductors to produce light. LEDs last longer, use less energy, and provide higher quality light than most other types of light bulbs.
Net Metering Net metering allows owners of solar projects to sell excess electricity back to the grid for its retail value. Whenever electricity produced by solar panels exceeds electricity consumed by a home, it flows “backward” into the electrical grid, and the bi-directional meter (installed as part of the solar project) spins backwards as well, accumulating credits that show up on the homeowners’ electrical bill. The homeowner is only charged for the “net” amount of electricity used and is credited for the electricity sent to the grid. Therefore, net metering has a double-advantage – 1) it saves homeowner money by reducing amount of electricity that needs to be bought from the electrical supplier, and 3) the homeowner can actually monetize excess electricity produced by the solar system.
PVs Photovoltaic (aka Solar) Installations (aka Systems). PV systems absorb light (energy in the form of photons) from the sun using solar panels, and convert it into a type of energy we can use – electricity.
REC Renewable Energy Certificate. One REC represents a non-tangible energy commodity equivalent to production of 1 megawatt-hour of renewable energy. REC represents the property rights to the environmental, social, and other nonpower qualities of renewable electricity generation. A REC, and its associated attributes and benefits, can be sold separately from the underlying physical electricity associated with a renewable-based generation source. They are a way for consumers of electricity to benefit from and support renewable energy technologies without needing to own or operate their own renewable energy generation facilities.
Single-Stream Recycling Also known as “zero-sort” recycling, is a system of recycling collection in which all types of recyclables (paper, plastic, metals, glass, etc.) are placed, unsorted, in one recycling bin and sorted by processing equipment at a regional recycling center. This recycling collection strategy has been shown to improve recycling rates by removing a number of barriers to recycling.