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.  

Green building design (also known as sustainable building design) 

(Definition adapted from World Green Building Council)

A ‘green’ building is a building that, in its design, construction and operation, reduces negative impacts, and creates 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 known 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, ethical and sustainable

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

Energy efficiency/energy conservation


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

Renewable energy/green energy/clean energy

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 examples of renewable energy. This type of energy source stands in contrast to fossil fuels. Fossil fuels take millions of years to form, and they are being used far more quickly than they are being replenished! 


Net-Zero Building


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.


Net-Zero Ready Building 


Built to the identical high-performance standards as a Net-zero building. The key difference is a Net-Zero Ready building does not yet have the renewable energy source installed, but has the systems in place and is 'ready' for future install.


Greenhouse gases (GHGs)

(Text adapted from David Suzuki Foundation)

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 as we know it.

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