National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

A federal law enacted in 1969 requiring review for any “major Federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment…” (link to NEPA Statute).  Environmental review under NEPA can be triggered by major policy changes, public or private projects funded by, and private projects permitted by a federal agency.  NEPA also created the Council […]

Net-Zero Energy Home

A home employing site-appropriate passive solar design, site-appropriate renewable energy products, and proven energy efficiency/conservation technologies and practices, resulting in an annual contributionto the electricity grid that is equal to or greater than the amount of power the home uses from the grid. Common sources of energy generation for the N-ZEH are PV panels and […]

Net Present Value (NPV)

The value, in the present, of an investment or financial transaction that will pay-off in the future, minus the cost of the investment up until the time of that pay-off. NPV represents the profit or loss, in present worth, of future transactions so they are comparable against other investments. NPV is usually calculated by adding […]

Net Operating Working Capital

A traditional measure of a company’s liquidity and potential for growth. Net operating working capital is defined as non-interest bearing current assets minus non-interest charging liabilities: Net operating working capital = current assets – current liabilities Generally, net operating working capital is equal to cash, accounts receivables, and inventories less accounts payable and accruals. Currently, […]

Non-profit and Not-for-profit

Two types of organizations that are not expected or allowed to make a profit, though many still generate revenues from activities. In return for not earning profits, these organizations are regulated differently and are tax-exempt. Non-profit organizations cannot distribute revenue to an individual or for-profit company. Any “earnings” gained in the pursuit of its goals […]


A type of market characterized by small size (relative to traditional markets) and special interests. Growing markets and trends often start as niche markets. In most categories, because there are no market majorities (a product or service with more than 50% of market sales), niche markets can be influential and lucrative.

NGO (Non-Governmental Organization)

A non-profit group or organization that is run neither by business or government created to realize particular social or economic pursuits, through research, activism, training, promotion, advocacy, lobbying, or community service.

Neoclassical Economics

Most of modern economic theory is based on this set of assumptions and mathematical models of markets. Neoclassical economic theory believes that markets are the best mechanisms for solving problems and are most effective when left alone without government or corporate interference. While this may be true, it is only so when markets and economies […]


The saving of a megawatt of power by reducing consumption or increasing efficiency.

Natural Step™

A trademarked, science-based framework to help organizations and communities understand and become more sustainable. It is also an international organization that provides consulting and education services around this framework. More information: