- Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is the position of industry standard. LEED certification accounts for the bulk of green design verification. According to USGBC (US Green Building Council), LEED certified space increases 1.85 million square feet per day.
- A professional designation can accompany your name as LEED AP. It may not have the ring of PhD, but it will instantly signify expert status in an industry standard. Just as an MD confers trust in medical practice, LEED AP also confers trust in sustainable design. Instantly, any potential client will know the possession of the industry leading accreditation.
- Clients will seek your expertise. Every day as more square footage becomes LEED certified and acceptance of green building grows, LEED accreditation becomes more valuable. More often public and private builders seek a team of builders and designers which contain at least one LEED AP.
- LEED buildings lease for more. Seeing the benefits including; lower operating cost, benefit to the environment, and increased productivity increases the price per square foot accepted by tenants. Owners of Energy Star and LEED buildings are able to justifiably include a higher rent.
- LEED Certified building experiences greater tenant rates. Increasingly, companies and individuals desire working, living and shopping in LEED certified environments. Despite the often higher cost in rent per square foot, about 92% of space is occupied in LEED certified buildings.
- LEED Design lowers operating costs. Many contributions to the development of sustainable design center on reductions in energy use. The reduction in energy use by the use of innovated design, technology and materials comprises a major factor of green certified buildings.
- LEED buildings positively impact the environment. With a reduction in energy consumption, LEED buildings benefit the surrounding environment. Water security and quality also receive positive influence from sustainable building practices.
- LEED buildings enhance neighborhoods. Building a LEED structure, or better still, a cluster of LEED structures, allows for adoption of a car free lifestyle. LEED certified buildings comprise a fixture for a neighborhood to branch out and embrace the coming wave of green building.
- Provides competitive advantage in the current job market; employers have a glut of choice. The amount of choice allows employers to carefully decide on the best candidate for their needs. The need of LEED AP architects rises with each passing day. Earning accreditation in LEED positions you well above those without accreditation.
- LEED is internationally recognized. LEED certification not only inhabits the most popular spot in the US; China, India, and the Middle East all accept and commit to certification of LEED buildings.
The first step of the LEED accreditation process is to earn LEED Green Associate accreditation. Earning a LEED Green Associate credential conveys a documented, current understanding of green building principles. As a first step to green accreditation, a LEED Green Associate credential represents a commitment towards career development. There are no pre-requisites to register and take the LEED Green Associate exam.
Comprising the second-tier of LEED accreditation, a LEED AP credential signifies an increased depth of knowledge. As depth of knowledge increases, so too does specialization. The LEED AP exams come in a variety of specialties including:
- Building Design + Construction – pertains to professionals possessing design and construction expertise. BD+C accreditation serves commercial, residential, education and healthcare sectors
- Operations + Maintenance – evaluates existing buildings operations and maintenance to improve sustainable practices, reduce environmental impact, and enhance performance and efficiency of the buildings.
- Interior Design + Construction – centers on development of design and construction to improve the health impact, sustainability and productivity of tenants.
- Neighborhood Development – deals with the enhancement of neighborhoods into sustainable, walkable locales.
- Homes – As the name implies, this specialization offers custom tailored practices to produce healthy, durable, efficient and waste-conscious homes.
Taking the LEED Exam
The tests cover a comprehensive amount of information. There are many study aids available to increase chances of earning a passing score. Once you are ready to register for the test, keep these in mind:
- The exams consist of 100 multiple-choice questions broken into sections.
- If English is not the preferred language, translation aids are available in the following languages; Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, and French.
- The exams are designed to test the knowledge of current known green building standards and benefits.
- Hundreds of local affiliates, such as Sylvan Learning, proctor the exams.
- A passing score is 170 or higher out of 200 possible points.
LEED Green Associate exam: USGBC/CaGBC members/full-time students: $200 (non-members: $250)
LEED AP specialty exam: USGBC/CaGBC members: $250 (non-members: $350)
Combined exam (LEED Green Associate and LEED AP with specialty): USGBC/CaGBC members: $400 (non-members: $550)