Energy Intensity

Energy Intensity is the ratio of energy consumption to gross domestic product measured in Joule/USD. A demand indicator, it was originally a proxy for the energy efficiency of a country, and has been adapted to measure the energy efficiency of cities and corporations. Energy intensity is an aggregate indicator applicable in both public and private […]

Earth Overshoot Day

Earth Overshoot Day is the day each calendar year when the human demand, the natural resources we consume and the carbon dioxide emissions we create, exceeds the planet’s ability to regenerate those resources and reabsorb the carbon emissions generated during the same calendar year. Our first Overshoot Day occurred in the 1970’s and the date […]

Ecosystem Function

The physical and biological processes and characteristic activities that allow an ecosystem to exist and maintain its integrity.


According to FastCompany: “The end of the modern financial system as we know it has cleared the way for an era of ethical economics, or “Ethonomics.” We live in a world that’s resource-constrained but ingenuity-rich. So an upstart generation of entrepreneurs–and innovators within the world’s biggest companies–are founding businesses that are good for the world […]


Engaging in responsible travel to natural areas while conserving the environment and improving the well-being of local people. Those who lead or participate in ecotourism activities strive to: Minimize their impact Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts Provide direct financial benefits for conservation Provide financial benefits […]

Environmental Economics

A branch of neoclassical economics that seeks to address environmental problems, such as pollution and negative externalities, using traditional economic mechanisms, such as taxes, tax incentives and subsidies. Environmental Economics differs from Ecological Economics in that it does not view the economy as a subsystem of the ecosystem, but rather as a separate sphere with […]

Ecological Economics

An interdisciplinary framework that seeks to merge the two historically separate fields of economics and ecology. It assumes that: 1) there is an inherent link between the health of the Earth’s ecosystem and the economic system created by human beings; 2) the economy is a subsystem of the earth’s ecological system; and 3) by understanding […]


The relation of outcomes, measured in a variety of ways, to the inputs required for that level of production. In business, efficiency of materials, energy, personnel, investment, and processes are commonly measured in order to measure performance and prioritize expenditures and projects. In sustainable business, a systems perspective requires addressing untraditional economic effects (such as […]


Philosophically speaking, ethics is concerned with the evaluation of human actions – which attempts to understand the nature of morality and to define that which is right from that which is wrong(1). From a professional viewpoint, ethics typically pertains to a code of professional standards that contain aspects of fairness and duty to the profession […]

Energy Service Company (ESCO)

A company that offers to reduce a client’s energy costs, often by capitalizing the upfront expenditures and sharing the resulting future cost savings with the client. This is typically accomplished through the use of an energy-performance contract (EPC) or a shared-savings agreement. ESCOs may offer any of the following services: financing, design & installation, project […]

Energy Performance Contracting (EPC)

A contract with an architect, designer, or developer in which they are paid a bit more than they conventionally would have been, but part of their fee is paid over time from the savings their solution creates in terms of either performance or efficiency. Conversely, designers and developers are often paid a percentage of the […]

Economic Value Added (EVA)

An estimate of a business’ true economic profit for the year, differing sharply from accounting profit. EVA represents the residual income that remains after the cost of all capital, including equity capital has been deducted, whereas accounting profit is determined without imposing a charge for equity capital. The basic formula for EVA is as follows: […]

Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS)

An EU program recognizing organizations that are continuously improving their environmental performance beyond what is legally required. Organizations regularly produce statements reporting their compliancy and performance. Once becoming verified, they are recognized by an EMAS logo.

Eco-Industrial Park

Two or more separate industrial processes co-located in to form mutually beneficial, symbiotic relationships in which each participant’s environmental and resource issues (including energy, water, materials and waste) are managed in a manner that improves their environmental and economic performance. These parks may employ features such as: • Conversion of wastes into valuable inputs • […]

EBITA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, and Amortization)

An accounting measure that is a snapshot of a company’s financial standing. EBITA is the company’s financial picture with regard to earnings. However, what is missing from the concept of earnings, and the EBITA snapshot, is the cost and depletion of “free” natural resources that are part of production processes and consumption behaviors. If these […]

Environmental Justice

A term referring to inequalities in use and access to environmental resources, such as clean air and water and healthy living conditions. Economic disparities or geographic access often reserve clean and healthy environments for wealthier peoples, giving poorer people less access to clean resources or healthy living conditions. Environmental Justice proponents seek to create more […]

Environmental Audit

An examination (sometimes independent, sometimes internal) of an individual, corporation, organization, product, service, process or government’s impact on the environment. Currently, there are few standards for conducting environmental assessments but there are emerging audit protocols, such as the ISO 14000 and 14001 tools. At the very least, an audit can assess compliance with environmental regulation. […]

Environmental Accounting

An emerging field that aims to rebalance the treatment of environmental costs and benefits in traditional accounting practice. Separate environmentally-related costs and revenues are identified and new forms of valuation are created which encourage better management decisions and an increased investment in environmental protection and improvement.


A term loosely used to refer to the total of the Earth’s ecosystems. In an even larger sense, it includes not only the natural environment of ecological, biological, and climate conditions (the biosphere), but also the (human) social conditions that support (or not) various forms of life on the Earth. Some schools of thought cast […]

Ecosystem Services

A collection of services provided by the Earth’s ecosystem that are usually not a part of economic analyses but that are indispensable for any human endeavors. These include: clean air and water, plant pollination, climate regulation, soil regeneration, ozone protection, shade and shelter, etc. These services offer incalculable benefits to markets, economies, and societies but […]


Derived from the Greek words oikos, and logos meaning “study of home.” Preceding the 1935 introduction of the term “ecosystem” by Sir Arthur Tansley, Vladimir I. Vernadsky used it to define the science of the biosphere. Ecology studies the Earth and its systems, including the interrelationships of all living things and all elements of their […]

Ecological Marketing

Developed in the 1990s, a marketing approach to highlight products and production methods that improve environmental performance, further ecological causes, or solve environmental problems. Marketing products and services on these effects is growing but not all environmental claims are accurate. Some might be examples of green-washing. Ecological marketing works well with some groups of users, […]

Ecological Footprint

A term coined by ecologist William Rees and Mathis Wackernage to describe the total ecological impact (the amount of land, food, water, and other resources needed) to sustain a person or organization. This is usually measured in acres or hectares of productive land. It is used to determine relative consumption and is frequently used as […]


Also known as electronic waste or high-tech trash, it is considered hazardous waste. E-waste contains harmful metals such as lead, cadmium, and mercury. When these elements are dumped into landfills they leach into our soil and water supply. The health effects of these toxins on humans include birth defects, and brain, heart, liver, kidney and […]


Externalities are effects of services, products, or production on third parties who were not involved in the buyer/seller relationship. Externalities occur when a third party incurs unintended consequences from the market behaviors of others. Externalities can be either negative (pollution, waste clean-up fees that a community must bear, rather than the generator of the waste), […]

Equator Principles

Developed in 2002 by a group of banks, these guidelines are a framework for addressing environmental and social risks in project financing. The purpose of the principles is to screen projects for adverse environmental or human affects in order to safeguard communities and natural habitats. Financial institutions who sign-on to the principles agree not to […]

Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA)

A method of tracking and rating the risks associated with a product and the emissions associated with its manufacturing.


A person who assumes a lot of personal, financial, or business risk to pursue a market opportunity that does not yet exist.

Emissions Trading

An approach used by governmental regulatory agencies, private trading systems (such as the CCX), and private companies to reduce air pollution by providing economic incentives to reduce net emissions. Limits or “caps” are set and groups that foresee exceeding these caps may purchase credits from groups that have not the exceeded their emissions levels.


A term coined by David Crawford of the Manitoba Product Stewardship Corporation, writing in referring to: Characteristic of those having inflated the truthfulness about their own environmental accomplishments Characteristic of having an exaggerated sense of environmental importance An environmental disregard of others


A dynamic and interdependent living communityof people, parts, or mechanisms that interact with one another. The term was coined by Arthur Tansley, a British Ecologist, who said that ecosystems have the capacity to respond to change without altering the basic characteristics of the system. A business can be viewed as an ecosystem, as can a […]


An environmental label or declaration that provides information about a product or service in terms of its overall environmental character, a specific environmental aspect or number of environmental aspects. The information can be used to influence or inform purchasing decisions. Eco-labels may take the form of a statement, symbol, or graphic and be found, in […]


A term for leveraging technological and process changes in order to generate solutions that offer more value than current offerings while reducing resource use and environmental impact throughout the product or service’s life. Ideally, eco-efficiency not only achieves the best possible efficiency in terms of materials and energy used in the creation, use, and disposal […]


The central strategy in the cradle-to-cradle development method and seeks to create industrial systems that emulate healthy natural systems. The central principle of eco-effectiveness is that “waste equals food.” The concept was developed in response to some of the perceived limitations of eco-efficiency which critics claim only slow down the rate of environmental depletion and […]