Jargon Junction

Green Building

According to the EPA, The buildings in which we live, work, and play protect us from nature’s extremes, yet they also affect our health and environment in countless ways. As the environmental impact of buildings becomes more apparent, a new field called “green building” is gaining momentum.
Green, or sustainable, building is the practice of creating and using healthier and more resource-efficient models of construction, renovation, operation, maintenance and demolition. However a friend started after his first Green building he now knew why the called them Green buildings, it was because they cost so much to build.

Green Globe

This is the 10 year old international “revolutionary building environmental design and Management tool. Green Globes offers online assessment protocol, rating systems and guidance for green building design, operation and management. It is interactive, flexible and affordable, and provides market recognition of a building’s environmental attributes through third-party verification.

Green Seal

An independent, non-profit organization dedicated to safeguarding the environment and transforming the marketplace by promoting the manufacture, purchase and use of environmentally responsible products and services.


Sustainable development is a pattern of resource use that aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for future generations. The term was used by the Brundtland Commission which coined what has become the most often-quoted definition of sustainable development as development that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.


The acrnomin stands for the United States Green Building Council, it the nonprofit that introduced the LEED building rating systems. The USGBC organization dedicated to sustainable building design and construction. Since USGBC is NOT a government agency and has determined NOT to offer their LEED program as a Model Building Code, it remains a voluntary choice. USGBC was founded in 2002. In addition to the LEED programs for Development, Construction, renovation and maintenance of commercial and residential construction they offer testing for individuals that are interested in proving their knowledge of the LEED programs by achieving the designations of a LEED AP.


The letters stand for Leadership Energy Environments Design. USGBC has developed a series of Programs to rate construction projects. The Commercial categories include:
LEED for New Construction (NC) – New Construction and Major Renovation is for complete projects        including, site selection, site work and construction. School are included n this category.
LEED for Core and Shell (C&S) – Core and shell for new building and major renovations that do NOT include the interiors.
LEED for Commercial Interiors (CI) – Commercial Interior this option allows a tenant or user to achieve LEED Certification in a building that may or may not be a LEED Certified project.
LEED for Existing Buildings (EB)
Other Categories include, LEED for Homes and LEED for Neighborhood Development.
USGBC intends to upgraded the various programs on a regular basis, continuing the raise the bar.

ADA Americans with Disabilities Act:

The first federal legislation affecting building design in the history of our country. Part of the federal civil rights legislation it applies not only to new construction but also to existing buildings that need to be brought into compliance with the Act.


Organic Gases (Volatile Organic Compounds) Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. Concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors (up to ten times higher) than outdoors. VOCs are emitted by a wide array of products numbering in the thousands. Examples include: paints and lacquers, paint strippers, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials and furnishings, office equipment such as copiers and printers, correction fluids and carbonless copy paper, graphics and craft materials including glues and adhesives, permanent markers, and photographic solution. (As defined by the EPA)


Term refers to a specific way components are put together in wall, roof or floor to meet code requirements for fire or load ratings.

Bad Dirt

All the dirt you want for your garden; dirt full of organic materials such as leaves, roots, twigs, etc. that will ultimately break down and become good fertilizer or a bad foundation for your building.


The stone or gravel cushion installed under a floor slab or paving.

Bearing Wall

Certain wall assemblies can be used both as structure as well as the thermal envelope. Any time we can take advantage of one system to do two jobs we are saving you money. Tilt, masonry, and stud constructions are good possible candidates.

Big Box

A large warehouse building shaped like a box and used for anything from discounted retail to distribution and manufacturing. Think Target, Wal-Mart, or Home Depot. Big in the eye of the loan holder!


Building Officials and Code Administrators: The building code that’s prominent in the northeastern part of the United States.

Build To Suit

A facility built to meet the specific the needs and requirements of a predetermined tenant or purchaser.

Building Code

Costly, limiting interference to the imagination of your architect, and the sucking sound in your wallet while setting minimum requirements.

Catalog Cut

A manufacturer’s prepared literature to show you how the contractor will comply with the drawings.


Constant Air Volume: This is the most typical of the air distribution systems used in one and two story commercial facilities. All supply registers are either “on” or “off” and, when “on,” they add a predetermined air velocity that is moving through the supply register. Balancing is accomplished by adjusting dampers that will increase or decrease the flow to various areas.

Change Order

Once a building’s cost has been established, anything that affects the price of the construction or the time frame of the construction needs to be approved by a change order. Change orders can either increase/decrease construction costs or increase/decrease the construction time frames. Weather and
other delays can cause change orders that will add to the time and drive-up the general conditions. Change orders are not fun things.

Clear Height

In a distribution building, the unobstructed vertical space from the floor to the underside of the roof structure. Well designed distribution buildings are 18, 24, 32 or 36 foot clear height—why? Ask Team SAA!

Construction Type

Building codes require classification of your building. These classifications reflect the combustibility, non-combustibility or elements, whether they are masonry, steel, fireproof, fire-resistant, sprinklered, or unsprinklered buildings.

Design/Build/Bid Format

The oldest and most traditional approach to construction. Under this format, the design team is selected by the owner who produces a set of plans and specifications. These plans and specifications are used to solicit competitive bids from multiple general contractors or builders. The contract is generally awarded to the lowest bidder and the construction begins. In this approach, the owner has direct contractual relations with
both the architect and general contractor.

Negotiated Bid Format

Under this format, the owner and the design team select a general contract contractor who will build the project. The general contractor then solicits multiple bids from various sub-contractors and then the contractor, the owner, and the design teamwork in conjunction to select the best sub-contractors to build the job. This allows the comparison, timing, and quality of the various sub-contractors to be evaluated.

Design/Build Format

In this form of construction contract, the owner contracts only with the general contractor who selects and hires the design team the same way sub-contractors are selected. One of the features of this approach is saving time and allowing the owner, at an earlier stage, to know their construction costs. There is the big promise of reduced change orders, but this is not always the case. This is a general contractor’s preferred approach.

Controlled Fill

In order for fill dirt to be suitable for building and for parking lots to be success fully built on top of the fill dirt, the dirt need to be inspected by a Geotechnical Technician, who will verify that it is “Good Dirt.”

Cut To Haul

If the ultimate grading of your property will result in a condition where material needs to be removed from the site.

Cut To Fill

If the ultimate desired grade of your property will require more dirt than what is available at the project site. This term also applies to a situation when dirt is moved from one area of the site to another area of the site.


This is one of those words that have more than one meaning in construction. It can be the floor elevation of a bearing elevation. When used in this context, it refers to the height on the location from sea level, indicated in feet and tenths of feet. Elevation also refers to the drawings that reflect a vertical face of the building either exterior walls or interior walls: in simpler terms the picture of what it will look like.

ESFR Early Suppression, Fast Response

A fire sprinkler system technology for high cube, narrow isle distribution facilities. These systems eliminate the need for costly and hazardous in-rack systems. They require fire pumps and an abundant supply of water.

Fast Track Permit Program

Call Team SAA! NOW!

Fire Rating

Normally indicated by an amount of time and letter 1-hour (A labeled), 2-hour (B labeled), 3-hour (C labeled). These ratings refer to walls or assemblies that separate one area from another—a room from a hallway, a room from a floor above, a stairway or shaft from the room surrounding it. These areas are
generally required to have a fire rated wall or floor assembly.

Flood Plain

The engineered high water mark on property during a hundred-year storm. No building construction is allowed in the flood plain. Some jurisdictions allow for extremely limited grading and parking in these areas.


The gross first floor or ground floor area of a building.

Free Lunch

There is no free lunch.

General Conditions

This is most easily understood if you consider it the General Contractor’s “job site overhead.” It includes the Superintendent, trailer, electricity, and other numerous items. It is directly related to the length of the project, or the construction period.

Geotechnical Report

This is a report that includes recommendations about the suitability of the dirt on a particular site to support construction of buildings and parking areas. Test borings of 15 feet, 20 feet or deeper are drilled and samples of the dirt collected for analysis to form the basis for the report. The report states bearing capacity in PSF and the suitability of on-site material for controlled fill. We highly recommend that you complete this report during the feasibility period of a land purchase. Helps to avoid very costly problems!

Good Dirt

This is dirt that you would not want in your garden; it is completely free of organic materials such as roots, vines, twigs or leaves. Organic materials break down and decompose over time and the soil will collapse. Good dirt must be in place under buildings, their floor slabs, foundations and parking lots to insure good life span.

High Cube

Advances in material handling equipment and flatter concrete floors, have lead to an increasing demand for high cube buildings with a clear height of 24 feet or more.


Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning: The acronym normally used in the construction industry.

Low Architectural Fees

See “Free Lunch.”


A model or sample to represent what pieces of the project will ultimately look like.


National Fire Protection Association: Their codes establish the criteria for almost all fire related activities in buildings from sprinkler systems to fire pumps, to types of walls and assemblies.

Pallet Racking

The steel storage systems used to store pallet-type loads in distribution and some warehouse-type retail. “Selective pallet” is the most common. However, many other type exist double-deep, drive-in, drive-through, push back, flow rack and other types depending on the products and the turns.


Pounds (Per) Square Foot.

Reflected Ceiling Plan

The drawing that is a mirror image of the ceiling reflecting acoustical grids and patterns, lighting, HVAC diffusers and other features.


Right of Way: A legally binding commitment to allow, generally, a utility (water, gas, sewer, electric, telephone) to run over or under your property without a utility having title to the property. It is the giving up one of your rights of ownership of a property.


Standard Building Code (previously the Southern Building Code): This code is used in most south eastern states. The North Carolina Code is a modification of the SBC.

Shell Building

Generally, a building developed by an investor for an unknown tenant or buyer with no interior work that will later be customized to meet their unique individual requirements.

Shop Drawings

These are one of the submissions that the design team will receive from the contractor and subcontractors, to show how they intend to comply with the intent of the construction drawings. Shop drawings can also include catalog cuts, samples, or even mock-ups. Shop drawings let the design team know what products and models the contractor intends to use.


Heavy aluminum window frames used to build larger window openings and they generally include doors.


This is the dirt surface below the gravel or stone cushion that is installed under paving or concrete floors. The quality of the sub-grade will control the overall performance of the paving or concrete during the life of your project.


Storm Water Management: Codes in all jurisdictions require the developers of a property to take into consideration the impact of rain waters leaving the property. Storm Water Management today also deals with the quality of water leaving the property.


Uniform Building Code: This is the code used in the Western United States.

UL Approved

Underwriters Laboratory: Both the fire-rated assemblies that have been tested and approved for use in the United States and are UL Approved. When reflected on the drawing, it will list a UL number, which will allow the contractor or subcontractors to check in a UL Manual to see the exact details of the assemblies, right down to how many screws per inch.

UL Underwriters Laboratory

A (the) major testing company in the United States.

Use Group

The occupant classification required by the various building codes to determine the ultimate use of the building. These groups include business, warehousing, assembly, education, manufacturing, retail, medical, construction, etc.

Value Engineering

A concept where the design team in conjunction with the contractor or sub-contractor present alternate construction, materials, assemblies and approaches in an effort to either reduce the project costs or provide shorter construction schedules, better construction schedules, better performance for the same price or some combination of the above.

Vanilla Box

The retail term that refers to the way developers deliver space to prospective tenants. The walls are paint ready, the ceiling and lighting systems are in place, the sprinkler heads have been dropped through the grid (if applicable), and the air conditioning is installed. Generally, bathrooms are not included. Sanitary sewage is running under the floor slabs and potable water is available at the ceilings.


Variable Air Volume: A significant upgrade from a CAV System that allows for individual temperature adjustments in different rooms or areas. Separate thermostats adjust an air volume box that will increase or decrease the flow into those areas, to accommodate changes in the temperature of a specific
room or area. They are about 70% higher in cost than a CAV system.

Walk-Through Permitting

Many jurisdictions will allow simple building permits to be issued the day they are applied for using a procedure that has the applicant’s representative hand carry the drawings between the various plans reviewers.