SAP rating

The SAP rating is the 'Standard Assessment Procedure' which provides an indication of the overall energy efficiency of a dwelling. It is measured on a scale of 1-100 where the higher the number, the better the performance. 

Scottish Ecological Design Association (SEDA)

Founded in 1991, SEDA promotes ‘…the design of communities, environments, projects, systems, services, materials and products which enhance the quality of life of, and are not harmful to, living species and planetary ecology'. SEDA’s design guides are particularly highly-regarded. (

Secured by Design

A police initiative that encourages the adoption of crime prevention measures in the design of buildings.


A system that alters its own characteristics to achieve or regain equilibrium.

Sequestration (Carbon)

The removal or storage of carbon in a place (a sink) where it will remain. Types of sequestration include 'geological' where CO2 is captured and buried underground and 'biological' where CO2 is absorbed during the growth of plants and trees.

Sick Building Syndrome (SBS)

Building occupants experience acute health and comfort effects that appear to be linked to time spent in a building, but no specific illness or cause can be identified.


A composit consisting of a sandwich of two layers of structural board with an insulating layer of foam in between. The board can be sheet metal or oriented strand board (OSB) and the foam either expanded polystyrene foam (EPS), extruded polystyrene foam (XPS) or polyurethane foam. SIPs share the same structural properties as an I-beam or I-column. The rigid insulation core of the SIP performs as a web, while the OSB sheathing exhibits the same properties as the flanges. SIPs replace several components of conventional building such as studs and joists, insulation, vapour barrier and air barrier. As such they can be used for many different applications such as exterior wall, roof, floor and foundation systems.

Site Waste Management Plan (SWMP)

Required for all projects valued over £300,000. SWMPs record the amount and type of waste produced and how it will be reused, recycled or disposed of. 

Standard Method of Measurement (Seventh Edition), SMM7

A methodology used by Quantity Surveyors for preparing Bills of Quantities (aka ‘shopping lists’).

Smoke test

Where used in buildings, smoke testing is a convenient method of detecting air leakage. The building is pressurised whereupon smoke is introduced and is forced through gaps in the building envelope.


A subsurface structure into which surface water is conveyed to allow Infiltration into the ground.

Soft strip

A term referring to the first stage of demolition, includes removal of internal finishes, M&E services and non-load bearing elements of the structure.

Solar panel/collector

A device for extracting the energy of the sun directly into a more usable or storable form. 

Solar gain

Heat absorbed through direct transmission through glazing (primary transmittance). Energy is also absorbed by the glazing and subsequently transferred inwards by convection and radiation (secondary transmittance).

Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC)

Is the US equivalent of G-value. The only difference between the numbers is that SHGC uses an air mass of 1.5 and the g value uses an air mass of 1.0

Solar shading

Devices that control heat gain as well as controlling light level, particularly in summer.


A liquid or gas that dissolves a solid, liquid, or gaseous solute, resulting in a solution.

Source control

An approach to urban drainage which deals with water at the place where it falls as rain, and collects, cleans and releases surface runoff slowly to streams, rivers and groundwater.

Stack effect

The flow of air that results from warm air rising, creating a positive pressure area at the top of a building and a negative pressure area at the bottom of a building.

Standard Building Energy Method (SBEM)

A software package developed by the BRE for calculating the carbon emissions of building other than dwellings. The user inputs data relating to the building design and the software compares the actual design with a notional building of the same design built to 2002 standards.

Strawbale construction

A building method that uses straw bales as structural elements, insulation, or both. It is commonly used in natural building. It has advantages over some conventional building systems because of its cost, easy availability, and its high insulation value

Sustainable drainage systems (SUDS)

An approach to drainage which seeks to decrease the amount of surface runoff, decrease the velocity of surface runoff, or divert it for other useful purposes, thereby reducing the contribution it makes to sewer discharge and flooding.

Sulfur dioxide (SO2)

A gas formed when fuel containing sulfur, such as coal or oil, is burned. S02 dissolves in water vapour to form acid, and interacts with other gases and particles in the air to form sulfates and other products that can be harmful to people and their environment. 

Sun pipes

Used to direct sunlight into deep plan spaces with no access to natural light. Sunpipes normally consist of an aluminium tube with a silver-coated mirror finish. Light enters the upper end and is internally reflected downwards through a ceiling-mounted prismatic diffuser. 

Surface water attenuation

The controlled release of surface water into the ground. Surface water is collected and stored in a number of ways including attenuation cells (aka ‘storm cells’). The water is then released into the ground at a rate that can be absorbed.


The state of having met the needs of the present without endangering the ability of future generations to be able to meet their own needs.

Sustainable Energy

The provision of energy such that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Sources include biofuels, solar power, wind power, wave power, geothermal power and tidal power.