Definitions of Terms and Other Explanatory Notes

Glossary of Terms

Baseline Year

The starting year of energy or water use, or greenhouse gas emission reporting, that a facility or department uses for comparison to later years. For example, most state facilities use 2003 as a baseline year for measurement of energy use, and 2010 as a baseline for measurement of water use and greenhouse gas emissions.



The process of collecting performance data for a facility and comparing that data to a standard metric, usually the best performance practices for that type of facility. Energy and water benchmarking of state buildings is usually done with the goal of motivating the facility to improve, and allows for comparing progress with other buildings. Benchmarking of state buildings shall use ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager® for energy and water use, and The Climate Registry for greenhouse gas emissions, using its Climate Registry Information System (CRIS) online database.


British Thermal Unit (Btu)

A measure of heat energy. It takes 1 Btu to raise the temperature of 1 pound of water by
1 degree Fahrenheit at sea level. For example, it takes about 2,000 Btu to make a pot of coffee. One Btu is approximately equivalent to 252 calories, 778 foot-pounds, 1,055 joules, and 0.293 watt-hours. (Note: In the abbreviation, only the B is capitalized.)

  • kBtu = 1,000 Btu
  • MMBtu = 1 million Btu (sometimes expressed as MBtu)

See "Energy Unit Conversions" below for conversions of various energy types to equivalent Btu.


Carbon Dioxide Equivalent (Co2e)

A common unit of measure used to compare the emissions from various greenhouse gases based upon their global warming potential (GWP). Carbon dioxide equivalents are commonly expressed as metric tons of CO2e. The carbon dioxide equivalent for a gas is derived by multiplying the tons of the gas by the associated GWP.


The Climate Registry

A nonprofit organization that provides meaningful information aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Climate Registry establishes consistent, transparent standards throughout North America for businesses and governments to calculate, verify and publicly report their carbon footprints in a single, unified registry.


Climate Registry Information System (Cris)

The Climate Registry’s online greenhouse gas (GHG) calculation, reporting, and verification tool. CRIS also provides public access to The Registry’s verified emission reports.



Referenced on this website are departments of the State of California that manage state-owned facilities.


Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (Evse)

Commonly referred to as electric vehicle charging station, the term EVSE includes equipment and power connections that deliver energy to charge electric vehicles.


Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure

Includes structures, machinery, and equipment necessary and integral to charge an electric vehicle, including EVSEs, power supply, and data connections, if applicable. Executive Order
requires state agencies to evaluate and plan for electric vehicle charging infrastructure at state-owned parking facilities.


Energy Star® Portfolio Manager®

An online tool developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to measure and track energy, water consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions. It can be used to benchmark the performance of one building or a whole portfolio of buildings, all in a secure online environment. State of California departments and agencies have been directed to use the ESPM to document energy and water use data to track progress toward achieving targets of Governor Brown’s Executive Order B-18-12 and Green Building Action Plan.


Energy Unit Conversions

On this website, the following conversion factors are used to combine total energy into common energy units of Btu:

  • 1 kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity = 3,412 Btu or 3.412 kBtu
  • 1 therm of natural gas = 100,000 Btu or 100 kBtu
  • 1 gallon of propane gas = 91,500 Btu or 91.5 kBtu
  • A wooden kitchen match produces approximately 1 Btu
  • A typical household air conditioner uses 5-15 kBtu


Energy Use or Energy Consumption

The amount of energy consumed in the form in which it is acquired by the user. This includes all forms of energy, including but not limited to electricity, natural gas, propane, and other fuels. Energy, as referenced on this website, includes actual energy sources used at the site or facility and excludes upstream electrical generation and distribution losses.


Energy Use Intensity (EUI)

An expression of a building’s energy use as a function of its size or other characteristics. For most property types in the ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager®, the EUI is expressed as energy per square foot per year. A building’s EUI is calculated by dividing the total of all energy sources (electricity, natural gas, propane, etc.) consumed by the building in one year (measured in kBtu) by the total gross floor area of the building (kBtu/square foot).



This website refers to facilities as sites where state-owned buildings are located. A facility could include only one structure, or could include an entire campus of buildings and structures.


Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI)

A third-party organization that provides independent oversight of professional credentialing and project certification programs related to green building. GBCI administers certifications and professional designations within the framework of the U.S. Green Building Council® LEED® green building program; and ensures precision in the design, development, and implementation of measurement processes for green building performance (through project certification) and green building practices (through professional credentials and certificates).


Greenhouse Gas (GHG)

Any gas that absorbs infrared radiation, slowing down the passage of re-radiated heat through Earth’s atmosphere. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, chlorofluorocarbons, nitrous oxide and ozone, as well as other gases, and absorb heat at different rates. Some greenhouse gases are naturally occurring, and others result from human activities, such as burning of fossil fuels.


Kilowatt (kW)

One thousand (1,000) watts. A unit of measure of the amount of electricity needed to operate given equipment. On a hot summer afternoon, a typical home with central air conditioning and other equipment in use might have a demand of 4 kW.


Kilowatt-Hour (kWh)

The most commonly used unit to measure electricity consumed over time. It means 1 kilowatt of electricity supplied for one hour. In 2013, a typical California household consumed 690 kWh in an average month.


Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design™ (LEED®)

The nation’s most widely used green building rating system, developed and administered by the U.S. Green Building Council®, rates buildings for sustainability qualities including energy and water efficiency, improved indoor environmental quality, reduced transportation impacts, sustainable sites, and materials efficiency. Using LEED, California’s building managers are able to track progress toward sustainability targets and earn nationally recognized certification.


Leed® Certified

New or existing buildings, or even neighborhoods, can obtain one or more LEED® certifications by completing and documenting prerequisites and optional credits sufficient to demonstrate certification at one of four levels: LEED Certified™, LEED Silver®, LEED Gold®, or LEED Platinum®. LEED certification is achieved only after the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) reviews applications and documentation and determines whether credits are satisfactorily completed. Governor Brown’s Executive Order B-18-12 requires that new or renovated state buildings over 10,000 square feet and existing buildings over 50,000 square feet achieve LEED certification at a level of Silver or higher.


Location Efficiency

A measure of the effect of a facility’s location on travel behavior and related environmental impacts such as GHG emissions from vehicles.


Monitoring Based Commissioning (MBCx)

MBCx is a process which maintains and continuously improves building performance over time. MBCx is defined as the implementation of an ongoing commissioning process with focus on monitoring and analyzing large amounts of data on a continuous basis.


Megawatt (MW)

One thousand kilowatts (1,000 kW) or 1 million (1,000,000) watts. One megawatt is enough electrical capacity to power approximately 1,000 average California homes.



To make modern in appearance, style, or function. In buildings, this typically includes replacement of finishes and some outdated building systems (lighting, HVAC, roofing, etc.), sometimes resulting in improved efficiency.


On-Site Renewable Energy

Renewable energy that is generated within the boundaries of a facility or site, where the energy is consumed.


Photovoltaic Cell (PV CELL)

A semiconductor that converts sunlight into electricity. Also known as solar cells or solar photovoltaics (PVs).


Process Energy

The energy used in an activity or treatment that is not related to the space conditioning, lighting, service water heating, or ventilating of a building as it relates to human occupancy. A process load is a load placed on the building systems resulting from a process (examples could include manufacturing equipment loads or other loads serving uses outside of the building).


Plug Loads

The energy demand from an appliance, piece of equipment, or electrical device that is plugged into the electrical system and can be unplugged. Equipment and devices that are hard-wired into the electrical system are not typically included in plug loads.


Renewable Energy

Resources that constantly renew themselves or that are regarded as practically inexhaustible. These include solar, wind, geothermal, small hydroelectric generation and biomass. Although particular geothermal formations can be depleted, the natural heat in the earth is a virtually inexhaustible reserve of potential energy. Renewable resources also include some experimental or less-developed sources such as tidal power, sea currents and ocean thermal gradients.


Retrocommissioning (RCx)

Also known as Existing Building Commissioning (EBCx), retrocommissioning is a systematic process for improving the efficiency and operation of a building, and how building energy or water consuming equipment and systems function together. This involves developing a building operation plan that identifies current operating requirements and needs, conducting tests to determine whether building systems are performing optimally in accordance with the plan, and making any necessary repairs or changes to building systems for improved performance and efficiency.



Modifying a building after initially built. This may include changes to systems inside the building (i.e., lighting, mechanical, plumbing, etc.) to improve amenities for building occupants or to improve building performance.


State Portfolio

The executive branch of the State of California owns approximately 1,800 facilities with over 12,000 structures comprising more than 120 million square feet. These buildings are managed by 38 state departments or agencies and are located throughout California. The state also leases over 20 million square feet of buildings.


U.S. Green Building Council® (USGBC)

A worldwide 501(c)(3) nongovernmental organization made up of 13,000 member organizations, 76 chapters and thousands of community volunteers working together to move the building industry toward higher sustainability. The USGBC administers the LEED® green building program, and has accredited over 188,000 LEED professionals who help certify buildings using the LEED rating system.


Explanatory Notes:

EXECUTIVE ORDER B-18-12 (EO B-18-12) and the GREEN BUILDING ACTION PLAN (GBAP) – signed April 25, 2012; Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. directed state agencies and departments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, energy, and water use, and move toward zero net energy for state facilities. He also directed increases to on-site power generation and electric vehicle charging infrastructure, as well as improved indoor environmental quality, environmentally preferable purchasing and building commissioning, and the development of additional state policies supporting these efforts. The oversight of these efforts is coordinated through an interagency Sustainability Task Force and Sustainable Building Working Group.

    • Reduce energy use 20 percent by 2018, as compared to a 2003 baseline
    • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions from state operations by 10 percent by 2015, and by 20 percent by 2020, as compared to a 2010 baseline
    • Reduce water use by 10 percent by 2015, and 20 percent by 2020, as compared to a 2010 baseline or earlier
    • Certification of all new and renovated buildings over 10,000 square feet to a level of LEED Silver® or higher
    • LEED certification of all existing buildings over 50,000 square feet
    • State agencies to evaluate and plan for electric vehicle charging infrastructure at state-owned parking facilities