In an effort to demystify the language around net zero carbon and environmental, social and governance (ESG) requirements in the built environment, global multi-disciplinary engineering consultancy, Cundall, has created a glossary of sustainability terms most commonly used in the industry.

From frequently misunderstood terms such as carbon neutral, embodied carbon and sequestration, and three different colours of hydrogen (did you know there were eight?), the glossary is a user-friendly guide to the sometimes-complicated jargon that defines net zero carbon and ESG in the built environment.

The A to Z of NZC covers commonly used technical terms, tools, scientific terminology, assessments and government regulation. It goes beyond the definitions to provide practical examples that demonstrate these terms in the context of the built environment. Furthermore, it explores some more obscure terms that Cundall’s experts predict will become part of everyday conversations in the near future.

Compiled by Cundall’s global team of sustainability and ESG experts, the comprehensive glossary is made up of over 130 terms relating to the built environment in 2024. The easy-to-use tool is designed to empower individuals across the industry – engineers, architects, contractors, developers and investors – to gain a deeper understanding of the language that is shaping a more sustainable built environment.

Mario Saab, Head of Sustainability MENA at Cundall, highlighted the challenge created by the surge of new jargon related to net zero carbon and ESG in the built environment.

“Sustainability and decarbonisation are a major focus for the construction industry, and rightly so. However, the sheer volume of technical, scientific, investment, and assessment terms, can be overwhelming and at times can slow conversations and hinder progress to implementing sustainable solutions on our projects.”

“This is what sparked the idea to create the glossary. This valuable resource is designed as a tool to assist everyone in the industry comprehend the language used, facilitating better communication, and accelerating progress towards our collective net zero carbon goals.”

The A to Z of NZC glossary was collated and designed as part of Cundall’s Zero Carbon Design 2030 initiative, a global commitment that aims to achieve net zero carbon on all Cundall projects by 2030. Part of this commitment is to collaborate with clients and the industry to make this transition as fast as possible, and the glossary will play a significant role in facilitating conversations around net zero carbon and ESG.

Download the A to Z of NZC glossary from