From Air Quality to Zero Emissions

24 Sep 2009


 'Biomass’, ‘Carbon Credits’ and ‘Sustainable Development’ are just some of the terms explained in a new handy guide launched today, Monday 24 September, 2009. Entitled: ‘From Air Quality to Zero Emissions’ it is hoped that the guide will explain common environmental information in a much more accessible way so that the general public can engage more in environmental issues.

'Biomass’, ‘Carbon Credits’ and ‘Sustainable Development’ are just some of the terms explained in a new handy guide launched today, Monday 24 September, 2009. Entitled: ‘From Air Quality to Zero Emissions’ it is hoped that the guide will explain common environmental information in a much more accessible way so that the general public can engage more in environmental issues.

“The environmental movement is relatively new and has a lot of its own terminology that has sometimes been seen as the preserve of academics and experts. The aim of this new guide is to help ordinary people understand more about the words and concepts used daily in relation to the environment so that they can make more informed choices,” said Inez Bailey, Director, National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA).

Developed by NALA, the A – Z guide contains over 100 explanations of common environmental terms and was launched today by Mr John Gormley T.D., Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government as part of National Adult Literacy Awareness Week in the Custom House, Dublin 1.

The guide is a free resource and it will be available online at www.nala.ie, in libraries, citizen information centres and free from NALA.

Speaking at the launch, Minister John Gormley said “My Department's activities affect the lives of every citizen of the state. They range from the quality of the environment in which we live to the housing, water and other services we as citizens use. However, not all environmental terms are easy to understand. Indeed with an estimated one in four adults having a significant literacy difficulty, we face particular challenges in making sure that we provide clear, jargon-free information. ‘From Air Quality to Zero Emissions’ is an important resource that I have no doubt will help people understand more complex terms which are used on a daily basis in relation to environmental issues.”

“Taoiseach Brian Cowen has spoken this week about carbon fuels and taxes, and the need to stop global warming. However, the problem with so many environmental concepts is that it is sometimes hard to know where to start. Indeed lack of plain English and jargon have been found to be one of the greatest barriers to understanding information. The terms described in this new guide are designed to help explain the most common environmental terms in plain English and it is hoped it will go some way to help people better understand current environmental issues” said Inez Bailey, Director, NALA.

Sample environmental terms include:

BER
Short for Building Energy Rating, which says how much energy a home needs for heating, lighting and hot water. Homes are placed on a scale from A to G. A-rated homes need the least amount of energy while G-rated need the most. Since 1 January 2009, all homes being sold or rented must have a BER certificate. BER ratings are carried out by BER Assessors registered with Sustainable Energy Ireland.

Carbon count
A measure of the amount of carbon dioxide you produce through your lifestyle every day, for example through driving or using electrical appliances and lighting.

Fuel poverty
Being unable to heat a home to a safe and comfortable level because of low household income or having to spend more than 10% of household income to heat a home to a comfortable level because the home is not energy efficient.

Hazardous waste
Waste that poses a risk to human health or the environment and needs to be handled and disposed of carefully. Examples include oil-based paints, car batteries, weed killers, bleach and waste electrical and electronic devices.

WEEE
Short for Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), which are any unwanted devices with a plug or battery – from a remote control or digital camera to a vacuum cleaner or fridge freezer. These devices must be disposed of carefully to avoid damage to the environment. To get rid of an unwanted device, you can bring it to a civic amenity site or leave it with a retailer when you are buying a new device. All WEEE left in retail outlets and civic amenity sites are collected for recycling.

NALA plans to update the guide online to ensure that it maintains its relevance.

Ends


For further information contact:

Clare McNally, National Adult Literacy Agency, 01 8509109 / 087 6486292

The National Adult Literacy Agency:
The National Adult Literacy Agency is an independent membership organisation, concerned with developing policy, advocacy, research and offering advisory services in adult literacy work in Ireland. NALA was established in 1980 and has campaigned since then for the recognition of, and responses to, the adult literacy issue in Ireland. According to the last international survey, one in four Irish adults has difficulties reading and writing. For example, they may not be able to understand environmental information on waste bins or public information notices.

With this in mind, a lot of NALA’s work involves developing policies and practices that reduce literacy-related barriers to accessing information – specifically in public services. This has involved working with a number of government departments in producing publications in plain English. As its focus is on everyday language, plain English is a style of presenting information that helps someone understand it the first time they read or hear it.