LEED for Individuals |GBRI Blog

what is LEED

As the demand for Green Buildings increases, someone who is starting out in the field needs to have ways to distinguish themselves as Green Architects. One method that professionals in the Green Building Industry have to distinguish themselves as knowledgeable in Green Building is to obtain an accreditation from LEED. While the general public is only starting to become aware of LEED and the significance behind a LEED certified building, there is a growing demand for LEED certified buildings and therefore, individuals who have obtained an LEED accreditation.

Knowing what LEED is and why it this is so important when you are getting into Green Architecture Building, the following are important things to know before starting the process. LEED or rather, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design is a set of different rating systems meant for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of various types of Green Buildings. LEED is one of the leading Breen Building rating systems in both the United States and the world. If a company or an architect wants to gain any sort of advantage in the industry, it is becoming increasingly more important to obtain a LEED Certification for the building. However, LEED also offers an accreditation for individuals. If you are working in the Green Building industry, obtaining this accreditation could benefit your career, as it will set you apart from others.

However, obtaining this accreditation isn’t easy and will require a lot of effort on the part of the individual. The benefits of having this accreditation outweigh many of the drawbacks, as having this will set you apart as a dedicated Green Building professional. For individuals, there are two different levels of accreditation: the LEED Green Associate (GA) and the LEED Accredited Professional (AP). While it isn’t strictly necessary to obtain both the LEED GA and AP, it is highly beneficial to have both. In order to get the LEED GA and PA you have to take exams that test your knowledge on the LEED requirements and it is suggested that when you take the LEED GA exam and the LEED AP exam within the same testing period.

Both exams are delivered in a similar format. Each test consists of 100 multiple choice questions that the test-taker is required to answer within a two-hour time period. While both of the exams have items that are scored and not scored, these items are random. Taking this factor into account, it is important to answer all of the questions. Test-takers are also required to sit through a short tutorial and fill out a satisfaction survey, bringing the total amount of time for the LEED GA and AP exams to four hours and twenty minutes.

The LEED GA exam requires a general knowledge of the LEED prerequisites and credits for the different rating systems that LEED has developed. The LEED AP exam requires a more in-depth knowledge of these prerequisites and credits. This exam is meant to show advanced knowledge in the LEED system as well as expertise a particular rating system that LEED offers. People who are taking the LEED AP exam can choose to specialize in any of the following categories:

  • LEED Building Design and Construction (BD+C)
  • LEED Interior Design and Construction (ID+C)
  • LEED Existing Building Operations and Maintenance (O+M)
  • LEED Neighborhood Development (ND)
  • LEED Homes (Homes)

Each of the different categories is different and it is important to have knowledge as to what each of the different categories means. This allows you to focus on your particular specialty in Green Building.

The LEED BD+C exam is for professionals who have experience with the design and construction phases of green building. Those who take this exam are required to have knowledge of the commercial, residential, education, and healthcare sectors.

The LEED ID+C exam is meant for professionals who are specializing in the design, construction and improvement of commercial interiors and tenant spaces. Those who take this exam are expected to know how to effectively create spaces that offer a healthy, sustainable, and productive environment for work.

The LEED O+M exam is good for those professionals who are skilled in enhancing the operations and maintenance of existing buildings. Those who take this exam must be prepared to answer questions related to the implementation of sustainable practices, improving performance, heightening efficiency, and reducing environmental impact in buildings that are currently in existence.

The LEED ND exam is for professionals who choose to participate in the planning, design and development of neighborhoods and communities. When taking this exam, you should have knowledge of how to make a neighborhood and community more environmentally friendly, make it easier for the residents to walk and utilize more environmentally friendly forms of transportation.

The LEED Homes exam is aimed for professionals who are interested in creating homes that are environmentally friendly. These homes should be healthier and more durable than conventional homes. Throughout the lifetime fewer resources should be used in building these homes and throughout the lifetime of the home, it should rely on these resources. Along with these requirements, the home should produce less waste overall.

It is important to note that when you are applying to take the LEED exam you are not required to submit proof of prior experience with a LEED project, the level of LEED Project experience competence that a person displays will be assessed in the exam. If you are serious about getting the LEED AP accreditation, then it is vital that you have experience with an LEED Project prior to taking the exam.

In order to take these exams, you need to register for the exam at usgbc.org and pay all the registration fees. From the time that you register for the exam, you have a year to take the exam. While you shouldn’t dawdle and wait till the last minute to take the exam, it is important to wait till you feel ready before you take the exam.

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Credit: Mary Peterson

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