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5 ways to earn your LEED and AIA CE hours without breaking your bank

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5 ways to earn your LEED and AIA CE hours without breaking your bank|5 ways to earn your LEED and AIA CE hours without breaking your bank|6 LEED Specific CE Hours (BD+C

Continuing education or “CE” hours are the hours LEED professionals spend in credential maintenance activities. CE hours are calculated differently depending on the activity.

If you are a LEED Green Associate, you must earn 15 CE hours (three must be LEED-specific) every two years to maintain your credential. Twelve of those hours can be “general”, meaning they are related to general green building concepts but not specific to a particular rating system.  Three of those hours must be specific to any of the LEED rating systems.

If you are LEED AP, you must earn 30 CE hours (twenty-four of the hours are general CE related to green building and six hours must be “specific”, or technically related to your specialty) every two years to maintain your credential.

LEED APs with multiple specialties must earn an additional six LEED-specific CE hours for each additional specialty.

This means LEED professionals have two years minus one day from the date of earning the credential to complete the required CE hours. For example, if you pass your exam on October 2, 2019, your credentialing period ends on October 1, 2021, and the next period begins on October 2, 2021.  As of 2019, the credential maintenance renewal fee is $85. If you fail to meet your continuing education requirements, you will have to complete the entire registration and testing process again.

All AIA architect members, on the other hand, must earn 18 Learning Units (LUs) each year, 12 of which must be in the topic area Health Safety, and Welfare (HSW).

What exactly are rating system-specific CE hours?

Rating system-specific CE hours are continuing education hours earned from doing activities that are specific to a rating system (for example, LEED Green Associates and LEED APs with specialty must take LEED-specific courses in order to fulfill LEED-specific CE hours, SITES APs must take SITES-specific courses in order to fulfill SITES-specific CE hours, and WELL APs must take WELL-specific courses in order to fulfill WELL-specific CE hours).

Why CE hours?

The intent of rating system CE hours is to continue to ensure that the credential holder is knowledgeable in the current version of the rating system they are certified under. Rating system specific activities have an explicit connection to the prerequisites, credits, (LEED and/or SITES) concepts, or features (WELL) of a given rating system.

How can I earn my rating-system specific CE hours in an affordable way?

Rating system specific CE hours can be earned through any of the five different activity types allowed in the credential maintenance system-

Education from approved providers

Education should be relevant to green building, which includes environmental sustainability and human health and wellness. Education for general CE hours can come from learning activities that are approved by GBCI, or from non-GBCI approved courses. 

In the former case, you can take courses from USGBC Education Partners and AIA providers like GBRI (Green Building Research Institute). Approved providers can also self report your CE activity directly to USGBC and AIA. 

Please note that GBRI’s courses are pre-approved by USGBC as well as AIA for LU/HSW units, so you can earn all of your CE hours in one place!

Education from non-GBCI approved providers

Examples of non-GBCI approved courses that may be eligible for general CE hours include college and university courses, simulated project participation, workshops, courses and conference events. GBCI recommends using the LEED credit categories/concepts as a guideline to help you determine what constitutes general green building topics.

Please note that courses can only be counted towards credential maintenance once, and the same course cannot be reported in multiple reporting periods.

Both participants and instructors receive 1 CE hour per hour of educational contact time, and those who develop content also receive 2 CE hours for each course they develop. Under the continuing education activity type, rating system-specific credit can only be achieved through GBCI approved education designated as LEED-specific. 

You can attend events and conferences related to sustainability and green buildings. Take advantage of GBRI’s FREE CE courses and events at gbrionline.org/leed-ce

Project Participation

Work on projects registered for LEED certification count for 1 rating system-specific CE hour per credit or feature for credential holders working on projects certified under the system or standard related to their credential. Project administrators can claim an additional 2 CE hours per project.

Please note that the intent of project participation is to work on projects that are intended to be implemented. This excludes simulated project participation provided through education programs.

GBRI’s LEED Project Experience Program is approved by USGBC, GBCI and AIA for LEED Specific CE hours and AIA LUs/HSWs for up to 15 hours, so you can master LEED v3 and v4 by working on a real LEED project and earn all your LEED CE hours.

Volunteering (no more than 50% of total CE hours)

Volunteering includes participation in leadership positions, steering committees or working groups; LEED credential exam development and maintenance activities; or local USGBC community boards, committees or other volunteer organizations that support the LEED system or role in which they further their knowledge about green building. 

Volunteers can claim 1 hour per hour of participation. LEED-specific hours are designated for volunteering that is directly related to LEED technical content.


Authorship is a credited contribution to a print or digital publication and is worth 3 CE hours per published article and 10 CE hours per published book. LEED-specific hours are designated for authoring that is directly related to LEED technical content.

Special LEED CE Packages offered by GBRI:

As mentioned above, all GBRI’s courses or packages are pre-approved by USGBC as well as AIA for LU/HSW units. They are listed below:

6 LEED Specific CE Hours (BD+C, ID+C, O+M, ND and Homes)

This package costs $99.00 and includes all 6 LEED-specific CE hours for your credential. You may choose from BD+C, O+M, ID+C, ND or Homes specialties, and will have access to 3 courses that are 2 CE hours each. All courses in this package also meet the CE requirements of LEED Green Associate Credential. 

You can stay competitive by arming yourself with green building tools, techniques and knowledge while fulfilling your LEED Specific hours. This 6 CE hour course package is GBCI and AIA approved and tailored to meet the requirements of GBCI’s LEED -specific hours for LEED Green Associate, BD+C, ID+C & O+M, Homes and ND, as mentioned above..  

Courses are offered on-demand which means you can access them anywhere anytime 24/7 according to your schedule.

15 CE Hour On-Demand Package for LEED Green Associates and LEED APs

GBRI’s 2-year access 15 Hour LEED CE Hour On-Demand Series was developed by green building experts and will give you everything you need to renew your LEED Green Associate credential. This package costs $149.00 and consists of 15 GBCI/AIA approved CE Hours including 3 LEED Specific Hours. Each course is 1-2 hour long in length, and allows LEED professionals to learn at their own pace, and offers a chance to master new LEED v4 concepts and green building strategies through individual assessments.

You can stay competitive by arming yourself with green building tools, techniques and knowledge while fulfilling your CE hour LEED Credential Maintenance Program (CMP) Requirements.

GBRI LEED CE courses also qualify for AIA HSW LUs and may satisfy other professional organizations’ requirements as well. Courses are offered on-demand which means you can access them anywhere anytime 24/7 according to your schedule.

These courses are applicable to LEED APs as well. LEED APs may also choose GBRI’s 30 Hour CE Package or Unlimited Access Package/Learning Hub Subscription.

30 CE Hour On-Demand Package for LEED Green Associates and LEED APs

This package costs $179.00 and consists of 30 GBCI/AIA approved CE Hours including 6 LEED Specific Hours. These courses are applicable to LEED Green Associates as well. 

The 30-hour CE Book

The Original 30 Hour CE Book is a compilation of articles on sustainability, green buildings and LEED that will enrich your knowledge of the green building industry. With a 2-year access to online quizzes and lifetime access to the book, you will also earn 30 GBCI approved CE hours including 6 LEED Specific for BD+C, ID+C, O+M & 28 AIA approved HSW | LUs for your LEED AP credentials or 15 CE Hours for your LEED GA credentials.

The book is priced at $179.00 and is divided into categories that address sustainability as it applies to a project / building site, water usage, energy usage, materials, indoor environmental quality and innovation. In addition, the book also includes articles on sustainability around the world, unique features of LEED V3.0 as well as the latest LEED Version v4.0.

GBRI Learning Hub Subscription

Learning Hub @ GBRI is your one stop shop for all your Continuing Education and Training needs. You can go for this subscription because it offers the following benefits:

  • Compliance: Meets All Your GBCI LEED and AIA Credential Maintenance Requirements
  • Diversity: More Than 300+ Hours Representing Diverse and Trending Sustainability Topics
  • Quality: Prepared and Delivered By the World’s Best Sustainability & Green Building Educators
  • Relevance: Latest LEED v4 and WELL Building Standard Content
  • Flexibility: Articles, Online Courses, On-demand Videos, Audio Podcasts and Project Experience Sessions
  • Convenience: 24×7 Access, Auto-reporting and Certificate Downloads
  • Affordable: As low as $19.99 per month or $199 per year

Apart from the above mentioned packages, GBRI also offers free LEED, AIA and WELL Continuing Education courses that require quiz participation and passing in order to receive a certificate for reporting purposes. Once you pass the quiz for the respective LEED CE Course, a certificate of completion will be automatically issued. 

More about GBRI’s LEED Project Experience Program:

This course is designed as a set of project meetings that you may watch at your own convenience and complete optional assignments. Utilizing an actual LEED v4 BD+C project, this course walks through credit requirements, reference standards, implementation strategies, and documentation guidelines, while also highlighting the changes from the previous version of LEED. This course is ideal for LEED APs looking for practical experience working on an actual LEED v4 project.

GBRI’s LEED Project Experience program will allow you to:

  • Work on a LEED v4 registered project (BD+C, ID+C, or O+M) from the comfort of your home
  • Complete credit calculations and gain hands-on experience on an actual LEED registered project
  • Earn 10 LEED Specific CE hours from participating in 5 online on-demand project meetings
  • Accelerate your professional development and boost your résumé

Students will have access to an actual LEED v4 registered project, tools, calculations, plans and other documents. This is the best possible way to get your hands on LEED online (the platform where projects are registered for LEED certification).

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