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Welcome to the Nunamiutuqaq terminology guide. ​

This section is dedicated to helping non-experts understand the meaning and language surrounding green energy work, and profiles climate change, energy efficiency and renewable energy terminology.


As this project progresses we will continue adding new terms and working with Inuinnait Elders and language experts to translate each term into both spoken and written Inuinnaqtun.  

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Our lexicon is built upon the work conducted by the Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated and the Government of Nunavut, who co-hosted several climate change terminology workshops in Iqaluit and Kugluktuk in 2005. Terms and definitions that relates to our project were chosen from their document Terminology of Climate Change.


We organized three workshops with Cambridge Bay's Elders and Inuinnaqtun language experts in October 2021. During these workshops, we discussed each term and how it relates to the community and this project; we then adapted and refined the terms and definitions when needed and recorded them in Inuinnaqtun.

From there, we added and translated new terms, specific to green building design and building environment in general. We adapted our definitions from the following sources: Indigenous Clean Energy, Arctic Energy Alliance, David Suzuki Foundation, World Green Building Council, and United Nations Environment Program.

Local contributors to this language program include: Mabel Etegik, Susie Maniyogina, Ann Wingnek, Mary Kaotalok, Annie Atighioyak, Eva Kakolak, Jimmy Oghina, Margaret Oghina, David Amagainek, Noah Kuptana, Bessie Omikgoitok, Emily Angulalik, Eileen Okhina, Helen Blewett, and Eva Ayalik.

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Click on each theme's icon to see its vocabulary


Climate Change Terminology

In this section we explore general climate change terms, such as greenhouse gas, global warming and the carbon cycle. We reflect on the responsibilities we hold in creating and changing these impacts through our energy and consumption patterns.


Climate Change Impacts


In this section we capture the climate risks that will impact our buildings and the safety of its occupants. We reference impacts are already felt and known by Inuit communities.


Building Terminology


In this section we translate terms involved in energy efficient building and its goals to decrease heating and power consumption.

Climate Change Terminology




Weather / Hila

Weather refers to short term (hours/days) conditions of the air and sky over an area (temperature, clouds, winds, snowfalls, etc.)

Climate / Hilaup Ilitquhia


Climate is the weather of a specific region averaged over a long number of seasons.

Climate Change / Hilaup Aalannguqtirninga

Climate change is a long-term change in the usual average and extreme weather patterns, such as temperature, snowfall and rainfall. Although the earth’s climate is always changing over long periods of time and has been hotter and cooler than it is now, the pace of change has sped up significantly in recent decades.

Global Warming / Hilaup Uunnakpallianinga

Global warming is a gradual increase in the overall temperature of the earth’s atmosphere over the last few generations attributed to increase levels of GHGs in the atmosphere as a result of human activity (primarily the use of fossil fuels). Although there are still cold seasons, the usual temperature continues to get warmer

Anthropogenic / Taimailiulaqiniq Inungnit

Produced by people or happening because of human activities

Greenhouse gases / Puyum Anialaiqutaa

Much like the glass of a greenhouse, gases in Earth’s atmosphere sustain life by trapping the sun’s heat. These heat-trapping gases are known as “greenhouse gases” (GHG’s); GHGs allow the sun’s rays to pass through and warm the planet but prevent this warmth from escaping the atmosphere into space. Without them, Earth would be too cold to sustain life. For thousands of years, the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere was essentially stable. Natural processes removed as much carbon from the atmosphere as they released. But in the past century, the GHGs concentration has dramatically increase, driven up by human activities such as burning fossil fuels and deforestation. The more GHG’s present, the more heat is trapped, and global temperature rises. This increased warming has led to climate change. When we talk about greenhouse gases, we’re referring to carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride.

Fossil fuels / Uqhurjuakhat

Fossil fuels include coal, oil and natural gas that produce energy when burned. They were formed from fossilized, buried remains of plants and animals that lived millions of years ago. Because of their origins, they are rich in carbon.

Climate change adaptation / Hilauppitquhia Malikpallianiq

Climate change adaptation and mitigation actions go hand in hand. Even after introducing significant measures to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, some additional degree of climate change is unavoidable and will have significant economic, social and environmental impacts on communities. This is especially significant in Cambridge Bay as the Arctic is experiencing some of the most dramatic climate change globally, warming at least twice the global average. Climate change adaptation refers to actions taken to deal with conditions that are chaning, actions that reduce damages, deal with consequences, while taking advantage of potential new opportunities. For example, finding new ways to install building foundations on the permafrost.

Methane / Puplak Uunautivalliayuq Ikiarmi

A gas that plays a large role in incresaing the temperature of the Earth’s surface (even though there is not a lot of it in the air). It is produced when coal, oil and gas are extracted and burned, when things decompose in nature or in landfills, and when frozen bogs melt. It is made up of only carbon and hydrogen.

GHG Emissions scenarios / Puyut Anianiit Qanurinniarnahugiyauniit

An estimate of the quantity of greenhouse gases that will be released into the air over a period of time based on a set of future human activities.

Climate change mitigation / Ingattaqtaililugu hilamut

Climate Change Mitigation refers to efforts to reduce or prevent emission of greenhouse gases. Mitigation can mean using new technologies and renewable energies, making older equipment more energy efficient, or changing people's consuming behavior.

Carbon / Algunngup Puyua

A building block that is present everwhere, in all living things, in the ocean, in the ground and in the atmosphere. Without carbon, life would not exist. It is so small that it is impossible to see without special microscopes.

Carbon dioxide / Puyurluk Nakuungittuq Anirnirlirnaqtuq


The gas that is released when people and animals breathe, when plants and food decompose, and when energy sources like diesel, charcoal, oil and gas burn. It contains carbon and it is is an important greenhouse gas, because it helps Earth’s atmosphere to retain heat generated from the Sun. However, too much carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere lead to climate change.

Carbon cycle / Algunngup Puyaata Aulaninga

The way carbon continually travel back and forth between the air, ocean and the ground in living and non-living things

Carbon sequestration / Algunngup Puyuanik Tutquqtirvik

The capture and storage of carbon dioxide in the air, into oceans, soils, plants and soils.

Carbon sink / Alguungup Puyuanik Katiqhurvik

A place, like oceans and forests, able to take some of the carbon in the air and store it.

Carbon source / Alguungup Puyuani Aniavik

Any natural process or human activity that causes carbon to be released into the air.


Ozone / Igalauyaup Iluani Anirniqarnaittuq

A form of oxygen that is found in the upper and lower layers of the envelope of air and gases that surrounds the Earth. It occurs naturally in the upper layer where it shields the planet from the harmful rays and energy in sunlight. In the lower layer it is one of the gases that contributes to the warming of the planet

Ozone layer / Igalauyaq

A band of ozone located about 30 kilometres in the sky that protects the Earth by soaking up the harmful energy in sunlight. Some human-made chemicals can cause damage or thinning of this layer. Seasonal holes sometimes even appear in this layer above the northern and southern tips of the planet

Solar radiation / Hiqinirmin Uutirnarninga

All the energy given off by the sun, including the kind that we can see as light and feel as heat, and the invisible kind that causes sunburns (UV).

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation / Hiqiniup Uutirnarninga

A portion of the energy given off by the sun that is invisible to humans. It is almost like the X-rays used in hospitals. It can damage unprotected living things that are exposed to a lot of it, like causing sunburns or skin cancer through too much sunlight.


Albedo / Tarraliyaaq

The Arctic region has warmed significantly, up to three times as much as the average seen elsewhere across the globe. Much of this warming has been attributed to the reduction of the surface albedo effect. The albedo effect describe the ability of an object or surface to bounce back the light or heat that is directed at it. For example, pale things like snow reflect more light and heat than darker things like the ocean. Ice- and snow-covered areas in the Arctic have high albedo, and reflect solar radiation which otherwise would be absorbed by the oceans and cause the Earth’s surface to heat up. When more ice and snow melt, there will be more dark surfaces, accelerating warming of the Earth.

Climate Change Impacts




Climate change impacts / Hilaup Aalannguqtirninia Qanurilingatjutaa

The effects that the unusual and extreme global temperatures are having on populations, the environment, and, in our case, a building. For example, the melting of the permafrost over time will impact the building foundations, potentially creating cracks in the wall, or even leading to the collapse of the whole building.

Extreme weather events / Hilaup Hivuuranaqhininga


An occurrence, like a strong storm or a really hot day, that is so intense that it is considered unusual.

Active Layer / Nunaum Qaanga Mahaqataqtuq

The soil at the surface of the land that thaws during the summer. This layer is on top of deeper ground that stays frozen all year. As the Earth's climate warms, the ground will warm up and the active layer will get thicker, impacting the foundations of buildings and houses.

Prevailing winds / Anuqhirluarvia

The direction the wind comes from most of the time in a particular region in a fixed time period (like a season or a year). Changes in wind patterns and speed are one of potential risks that can impact a building.

Northwest wind / Pingangnaq-nigik

Prevailing wind in Cambridge Bay in winter time

Southeast wind / Kanangnaq-ungalaq

Prevailing wind in Cambridge Bay in summer time

Average Temperature / Ukiup Akullinga Hillagigtuq

The average of all the daily high and low temperatures recorded in one location during a period of a year. Changes in daily temperature due to climate change affect the way we design buildings, and how we size heating and cooling systems.

Weather predictability / Hilam Qanurinniarutaa

An indication of how easy it is to accurately say how warm, cloudy, windy, rainy, snowy and stormy it is going to be over an area in the next few hours or days. Climate change is affecting the way we can predict the weather.

Sea level rise / Tariuqjuaq Imaugangnia

An increase in the ocean level beyond the usual height along the shoreline. It is caused by the effect warmer temperatures have on the quantity of water in the seas. This describes an overall upwards swell of the oceans, rather than the daily ups and downs caused by the tides. Being able to predict sea level rise, can help us determine how far from the shore a building should be built.

Precipitation / Hilaluktuq Nuvuyani

Either liquid (rain) or solid (snow or ice) water that falls from the sky and reaches the ground. Climate change can affect the intensity (how much falls) and frequency (how often) of precipitation. For example, we anticipate heavier snow falls but shorter snow seasons in the Arctic.

Snowdrift / Qimugyuk

A mound or bump of hard-packed snow that formed when wind blows against an obstacle, such as a building. Often thicker that the surrounding snow cover.

Perfmafrost / Nunaup Puvitquumannia

Soil and ground that stays frozen all year-round.

Permafrost Degradation / Nunaup Puvitquumannia Mahaqatagammi


The permafrost is the soil and ground that stays frozen all year-round. As the Earth's climate warms, the permafrost is thawing, causing damages to building foundations

Snow melt / Apput Mahangnia

Water released when the snow melt in the spring (when air temperatures rise above freezing). Changes in the amount of snow that falls on the ground and shorter winters increase the rate of snow melts, causing drainage issues and water pooling around buildings.

Freezing rain / Nipaluk Hikkujuq

When rainwater is liquid even though air temperatures are below freezing, and that freezes when in contact with a surface, such as a building or a road. It can causes dangerous driving conditions and slippery surfaces.

Blizzard / Piqhiqtuq

A storm with large amounts of snow and wind. Blizzards can be so bad that you cannot see far. During a blizzard, water trucks will not deliver drinking water or remove wastewater, and planning ahead is essential.

Tornado / Ujalup kaivipkaqtaa

A tornado is a narrow column of air that rotates violently and extends from a thunderstorm to the ground.


Climate Risk Assessment / Hilaup Aalannguqtirninia Qanurilingatjutaa Naunaiyautaa

The identification of the potential climate risks a building will be exposed to (such as extreme winds), the evaluation of desirable and undesirable consequences, and identification of ways to manage the risks.

Buildng Terminology




Green building design / Hilamut ingattaqtailidjut iglughamik

A ‘green’ building is a building that, in its design, construction and operation, reduces negative impacts, and create positive ones, on our climate, natural environment and health. Green buildings preserve precious natural resources and improve our quality of life by:

  • Efficiently using energy, water and other resources. For example, by installing better windows, insulation materials, or LED lighting (those are know as energy efficiency measures).

  • Using renewable energy, such as solar and wind energy

  • Reducing our waste: re-use and recycling during construction and day to day activities in the building.

  • Protecting occupant health by providing a good indoor environmental air quality and use of materials that are non-toxic and sustainable

  • Adapting to a changing environment (for example, permafrost degradation or heavy snow loads)

A less energy efficient building will cost more energy to operate and burn more fossil fuels, having a negative impact on the climate. Renewable energy also decreases the amount of GHGs emitted into the atmosphere, by reducing the use of diesel for example.

Net-Zero Building / Uqhurjuaqtungittuk


A building which generates its own power using renewable energy sources (such as solar panels) and uses only this self-generated energy to operate the heating, cooling, and utilities thus equalling a net-zero energy consumption. A Net-Zero building is constructed to a high-performance standard, often up to 80% more efficient than the National Building Code.

Renewable energy / Avatimin Ikumatjutit Atuqpaktuq

Renewable energy, comes from natural sources that are constantly replenished on a human time scale. For example, sunlight or wind keep shining and blowing (although it depends on time and weather…). Biomass, waves and geothermal heat are also good example of renewable energy. This type of energy source stands in contrast to non-renewable energy.

Non-renewable energy / Avatimin Ikumatjutit Nautqilimittuq

The kind of natural resource, like fossil fuels, coal, minerals and gas that cannot grow back (like trees and plants do) or that do not come back in natural cycles (like sunlight, wind or water) after they are used. Fossil fuels take millions of years to form, and they are being used far more quickly than they are being replenished.

Energy efficiency / Huangaqhaut atutiarniq

Before using renewable energy, it is particularly important to decrease the overall energy needs of the building. Energy efficiency measures cost less than producing new energy supplies. Energy efficiency/ conservation measures are measures that reduce energy consumption whilst maintaining the same or better indoor conditions.

Those include:

  • Using light-emitting diode (LED) light instead of incandescent light.

  • Better insulation in the walls and roof, better windows and doors.

  • Finding and plugging air leaks - Heat recovery

Energy monitoring / Huangaqhaut qaujiharniq

Regular observation and recording of the energy use and energy production. It is used to understand how and when energy is consumed and produced, in particualr monitoring our energy helps us detect when something is not functioning the way it should. Knowing which area our the building uses the most energy also help us target our energy conservation efforts there.

Building Envelope / Tulimaq

The barrier between the interior and exterior of the home (ex. Walls, roof, windows, doors, insulation, etc). The building envelope is a system which is designed to protect the inside of the home from the external environmental effects such as rain, wind, humidity, and temperature. A well-built building envelope is one of the most impactful approaches to reduce heat loss and ensure better energy efficiency.

Weather predictability / Hilam Qanurinniarutaa

An indication of how easy it is to accurately say how warm, cloudy, windy, rainy, snowy and stormy it is going to be over an area in the next few hours or days. Climate change is affecting the way we can predict the weather.

Heat Loss / Anuqhiqtuk

If heat is escaping a building, it will cost you more money and use more energy to heat your home. Heat loss can account for up to 50% of a building or home's energy consumption.

Passive Solar / Hiqiningmin unnakpaktuq

A building’s ability to collect the natural heat of the sun and harness it to help heat it. For example, windows can be strategically placed so that sunshine enters, the heat is retained and reduces energy demand on other heating systems, such as the boiler.

Energy Audit / Huangaqhaut ihivriungniq

An inspection or analysis of a building to better understand how and where energy is being used. The purpose is to identify opportunities to upgrade and save energy, and determine where energy is being lost and what measures can be taken to improve energy efficiency.

Air Barrier / Uqhurutaa

Air barrier is a system designed to control airflow between indoor and outdoor air. Often a film or housewrap such as Tyvek.

Vapor Barrier / Uquuqtailijut


Material (often plastic or foil sheeting) that's used in buildings to reduce the amount of moisture that gets into our walls where, if it doesn't dry, can lead to mold and rot. Given our cold climates in Canada, vapor barriers are typically put on the inside of our homes.

Retrofit / Hanafaqtaa

A building or home energy retrofit is the action of improving your energy systems. The purpose of a retrofit is to improve energy conservation by reducing the energy used to heat and cool the home, improve the indoor air quality, and eliminate opportunities for mould to form.

HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilation) / Uunaqutiqarvik

An HRV system captures exhaust air from inside the building, and uses it to preheat incoming outside air. This is done to save money and fuel by reducing the amount of work a furnace does. HRV also filters the incoming air.

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