The 5 Elements:

Ancient Chinese philosophy shows us that just as nature goes through cycles of change, so do we…we are the seasons, we are nature and we are the elements. The 5 Elements in Feng Shui are Earth, Metal, Water, Wood and Fire. These five elements describe the movement of energy. They are symbolic of the forces within the universe, the earth, nature, our minds and our bodies. The 5 Element Theory is also used in Traditional Chinese Medicine.


This element’s season is late summer. Its energy moves horizontally and like the soil, it is in a stage of gathering in a downward and inward motion. Earth energy is balanced, centered and grounded like a mountain. The shape associated with Earth is flat or square. The color representing Earth is yellow. *Illustrations on the home page were selected to represent Earth’s energy or shape. Note the squaring off of the mountain in the nature illustration and the flat architecture of the building representing this element.


The season that represents Metal energy is autumn. This energy symbolizes work well done and time to contract – moving within and becoming still. Metal energy is very precise and logical. Round and dome-like shapes are characteristic of the Metal element. The colors associated with Metal are white, grey, silver and light pastels. *Illustrations on the home page were selected to represent Metal’s energy, shape or color. Note the dome shape of the building and the grey rocks with soft curves representing this element.


Winter is the season of Water. It is wavy and deep moving energy. Water portrays a depth of emotion and introspection. It suggests the inner self, the beginning of a more relaxed more flexible stage. The shape of Water is uneven and irregular. The colors associated with the Water element are black and dark blue. *Illustrations on the home page were selected to represent Waters energy, shape or color. Note the uneven rooftops in the skyline shot which illustrates the irregular shape of the Water element.


Representing rebirth, the Wood element is the season of spring. Wood energy is an upward, expansive movement and symbolizes growth. It is influential and flexible. It is an “awakening” bursting with new vitality. The shape of the Wood element is a rectangle. The color is green. *Illustrations on the home page were selected to represent Wood’s energy, shape or color. Note the tall rectangular buildings expanding and reaching up to the heavens representing the Wood element.


Summer is the season of Fire. This element can bring warmth, light and heat but can also explode like a volcano. Fire energy is very active and vibrant. It is energy with an outward and expanding movement. It is triangular in shape and is represented by the color red. *Illustrations on the home page were selected to represent Fire’s energy, shape or color. Note the triangular shapes found in both illustrations representing fire.

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Feng Shui Definitions


Often used in Feng Shui and Astrology to denote positive influences and favorable conditions. It describes beneficial effects and successful results or good luck.


The Bagua is considered the map of Feng Shui. The energy of the rising sun is in the East, the warmest sun high in the South, the setting sun in the West and the energy of night below in the North. It charts the cyclical energies of the universe and is a valuable tool in all schools of Feng Shui.


Ba means 8 and zhai means house in Chinese. Bazhai is the most popular method of Classical Feng Shui which is also known as Compass School. The influences of the Chi of a property is studied to see if the layout is in harmony with the person living or working in the space.

Black Turtle (Tortoise):

This dark, hard-shelled warrior symbolizes support and protects our back from wind, enemies and unexpected inauspicious energy. Outdoors it refers to mountains, hills, trees, buildings or fences. Indoors, a wall, screen or plant is used as a Black Turtle. Positioning a Black Turtle behind your bed or desk creates a power position for you.

Chi (Qi, Ki):

Chi blankets the entire universe. Scientifically speaking, it is the intelligence-holding vibration of sub-atomic particles which make up all matter. In the United States, the description most closely aligned with this concept is “life force”. Chi is most often invisible and is made up of Sheng Chi and Sha Chi. Sheng Chi moves in waves and curves and is the Chi of natural formations. Sha Chi is found in and around man-made shapes and often travels in straight lines. Feng Shui brings harmony by maximizing and containing the Sheng Chi and reducing the Sha Chi. This balance encourages health, happiness and prosperity.


Too many items in a space will obstruct the Chi. Clutter can be physical, emotional or spiritual and creates stagnant energy.

Electromagnetic Fields (EMFS):

These are magnetic energy fields. Wherever there is electric current, there are EMFS. Over exposure to Electromagnetic Fields is believed to be harmful to our health.

Feng Shui:

In Cantonese, Feng Shui literally means ‘wind and water’. These are the forces that shape our environment. One is visible and the other invisible. In a broad view, it stands for the relationship between surrounding nature, landscape, the beauty of buildings and the happiness of the inhabitants. It is a system of purposefully arranging an environment so that it has a positive effect on the people who live and work there.

I Ching:

It is an ancient philosophical text known as The Book of Changes. It contains the oldest descriptions and observations of nature. The I Ching has been used to guide and protect people for thousands of years.


This word is frequently used in Feng Shui and Astrology. It describes undesirable or harmful influences. It is also used to denote unfavorable, unsuccessful results or the absence of luck.

Lo Shu Square (Magic Square):

It is a mathematical grid used in Feng Shui numerology. Myth tells us that the numbers were discovered on the shell of a giant turtle. It is a 3×3 grid and is called a magic square because any three numbers in a line add up to 15.

Lopan Compass:

This is a tool used in Compass School to determine best directions and solar orientation for a building. It measures magnetic directions and has a complex system of rings that reveal Feng Shui information.

Poison Arrow (Cutting Chi):

Poison arrows are sharp angular lines directed towards you. Jagged edges of buildings directed towards the home, table corners, straight roads, and pointed objects are all examples of poison arrows. It is an inauspicious energy.

Red Bird (Phoenix):

The Red Bird is in front of you. In Compass School it is the Facing or Water direction. Indoors, it is the direction you face when sitting. In Feng Shui it can be a powerful tool, used to shape your future.

San Cai:

The San Cai is known as the Three Gifts of Heaven, Earth and Humanity. An essential principal of Feng Shui and Taoist teachings, when these three energies are balanced it leads to good fortune and health.

Space Clearing:

A method used to dissipate negative or stagnant energy (chi), Space Clearing raises the vibratory level and revitalizes spaces. By using a variety of techniques and creating a clean palate, it allows for new beginnings and setting intentions. Space clearing is found in most cultures and can be helpful after a stressful event, conflict, illness or death. It is also a wonderful ceremony to cleanse the energy of a property before moving in, making way for a new life. Methods can include the use of music, incense, dance, pendulum techniques, dance and sound.

Yin and Yang:

It is believed that the complementary energies of Yin and Yang represents the ever changing balance of life and the universe. Yang represents masculine, active, rigid and strong energy. Yin symbolizes darkness, stillness, weakness and the feminine energy.

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Green Definitions

Acid Rain:

The term Acid Rain describes the several ways that acidic compounds fall out of the atmosphere and cause a variety of ground-level environmental effects. These effects include damage to forests and soils, fish and other living things and also compromises human health.

Adapted plants:

These are low maintenance plants that are not native to a habitat. The plants are hardy and non-invasive and need little protection, pest control, fertilization or watering.


A site that was previously used for commercial or industrial purposes that is contaminated with toxins or pollutants. It has the potential to be reused once it is cleaned up.

Carbon Footprint:

A measure of greenhouse gases that estimates how much carbon dioxide an entity or product produces and releases into the atmosphere.

Climate Change:

Significant changes in climate caused by nature or by human activities that modify the atmosphere’s established order.


A fossil fuel that is a dark brown or black solid. It is naturally formed from fossilized plants and animal matter that is subjected to geologic heat and pressure over millions of years. It is a readily available resource in the United States and provides about half of the nation’s electricity. Coal-fired power plants generally cause more pollution per unit of electricity than any other fuel.

Energy Efficiency:

Energy efficiency refers to products or systems using less energy to do the same or better job than conventional products or systems. Energy efficiency saves energy, saves money on utility bills, and helps protect the environment by reducing the amount of electricity that needs to be generated. When buying or replacing products or appliances for your home, look for the ENERGY STAR® label. (EPA)
Energy Star is a federal program that labels household products that have met energy-efficient standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Go Green:

To Go Green is to participate in environmentally friendly lifestyles and choices. The intention is to create ecological integrity by helping to protect the environment and sustain its natural resources for today and for future generations.

Green Power:

Electricity that is generated from renewable energy sources is often referred to as “green power.” Green power products can include electricity generated exclusively from renewable resources or, more frequently, electricity produced from a combination of fossil and renewable resources. Also known as “blended” products, these products typically have lower prices than 100 percent renewable products. (EPA)

Green Washing:

Green Washing is a deceptive use of green PR or green marketing. It is the practice of some companies to disingenuously spin their products and policies as environmentally friendly.


Stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It is a Green Building Rating System and independent certification program that provides voluntary guidelines for developing energy efficient, sustainable buildings. Created by the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED® concentrates its efforts on improving performance across five key areas: energy efficiency, indoor environmental quality, materials and resources, sustainable site development and water quality and efficiency.

Native plants:

Growing in a particular area before humans introduced plants from distant places, these plants are vigorous and hardy and are resistant to most pests and diseases. Landscaping that incorporates native plants needs  little maintenance and requires no irrigation or fertilization.


The process by which volatile compounds evaporate and release chemicals into the air. Materials such as paints, varnishes, carpet, flooring, insulation, countertops, kitchen cabinets, plywood or particleboard, paint strippers and furniture can produce significant off-gassing. Fumes from Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) affect the quality of indoor air and can create serious health problems.

Renewable Energy:

The term renewable energy generally refers to electricity supplied from renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, geothermal, hydropower, and various forms of biomass. These energy sources are considered renewable sources because they are continuously replenished on the Earth. (EPA)


Smog is the brownish haze that pollutes our air, particularly over cities in the summertime. Smog can make it difficult for some people to breathe and it greatly reduces how far we can see through the air. The primary component of smog is ozone, a gas that is created when nitrogen oxides react with other chemicals in the atmosphere, especially in strong sunlight. (EPA)


The traditional definition of sustainability calls for policies and strategies that meet society’s present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. (EPA)

Rapidly Renewable Materials:

Resources that can be rapidly replenished as they are used. Some woods, grasses, cork and bamboo that replenish faster than hardwoods, fall into the category that is considered rapidly renewable materials.


These are gasses emitted and released into the air by a wide range of products. Some examples are, but not limited to: paints and lacquers, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials, furnishings, copiers and printers, permanent markers, craft materials including glues and adhesives, and photographic chemicals. Indoor pollution can be up to five times worse than outdoor pollution due to high levels of VOCs.

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Emerging Disciplines Definitions


This practice, which originated in Germany, takes the conditions found in natural environments and brings them into the home environment. Bau-Biologie, literally translated from German, is “building biology.” It creates a holistic interaction between man-made structures and the health of all life and living environments. The intention is that this natural environment will contribute to the occupant’s health of body, mind and spirit and at the same time have a low impact on the eco-system.


This is the study of the natural principles of animal and human-made structures. It is an organic architecture that offers a design approach arising from natural principles, and gives us buildings that are in harmony with nature.


This new word comes from bios which means life, and mimesis, which means to imitate. It is an emerging discipline that studies nature’s best ideas and then imitates these processes and designs to solve the challenges and problems of the human species.

Environmental Psychology:

An interdisciplinary science focused on the interplay between humans and their surrounding environments. The field defines the term broadly, including natural environments, built environments, learning, social and informational environments. It is believed that protecting, rebuilding and creating a preferred environment, increases the sense of well being and behavioral effectiveness in humans.

Sacred Geometry:

The use of a select group of mathematical ratios to create forms. Imagine life: from seed to flower, flower to fruit, fruit to seed-recreating and recreating. That is one of many examples of sacred geometry in its natural state. Some architects and designers may draw upon the concept of sacred geometry when they choose specific geometric forms to intentionally create harmonic, calming, spiritual and soul-satisfying spaces.


A new design concept, developed by Debra Duneier, that blends Classical Feng Shui, Green and Sustainable Living, Environmental Psychology and a variety of emerging disciplines, to revolutionize how people feel in their space. By bringing nature’s elements indoors in a whole new way, the EcoChi system attracts prosperity, harmony, health, happiness and environmental integrity.

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