Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Becoming a LEED® Accredited Professional

Many in the building sector are becoming LEED® Accredited Professionals (LEED APs). According to Building Design and Construction magazine, architecture giant Perkins + Will has increased their number of LEED APs by 66% in under one year, and currently 60% of their workforce (753 out of 1,200) are LEED Accredited. This is partly in response to a demand for more green buildings, but also because P + W pride themselves at being dedicated to being on the cutting edge of sustainability and energy-efficiency. In January 2007, Turner Construction announced that it surpassed its goal of doubling the number of LEED APs on staff. There are currently over 30,000 LEED APs in the US and that number is growing.

I am also working toward becoming a LEED AP, and because I receive quite a few questions about it, I thought I’d post some information here.

To become a LEED AP, one must pass an examination on one of three programs:

LEED for New Construction, version 2.2
LEED for Commercial Interiors, version 2.0
LEED for Existing Buildings, version 2.0

A LEED project receives 1 point through the Innovation and Design credit for having a LEED AP on board, regardless of which exam you take (for example, if you build a LEED-Homes project but pass the LEED-EB test, you still qualify).

I am studying for the LEED-New Construction version 2.2 examination. The exam is supposed to be extremely difficult; more difficult than version 2.1. In fact, if you read the LEED Professional Accreditation Handbook , part of the test scoring is actually based on psychometric analysis. One such analysis “reports how candidates for the test responded to each question for the purpose of assessing how difficult the question is and how effectively the question distinguishes between knowledgeable and unknowledgeable candidates”. The short version – this will not be a memorization game, and you better know your stuff.

It is recommended that you take a training workshop offered by the USGBC. I took a full-day technical review in 2006 and it cost $325. I have heard the prices have gone up but it’s hard to search their website without actually buying something, and nothing is currently offered in my area so I can’t be sure. They now offer half-day courses, and online education as well. Online courses are $150 for members and $200 for non-members. The thick reference guide for LEED-NC (my 460-page LEED bible) was $132.50.

I found a few “mock exams” online and to my dismay, I am still getting answers wrong. The questions are definitely confusing.

The LEED criteria makes perfect sense, but the referenced standards are somewhat daunting. The test may be easier for someone who works with energy or air quality standards on a daily basis and understands ASHRAE 62.1-2004, and that South Coast Air Quality Management District Rule 113, Architectural Coatings, also applies to waterproof sealants. One question I got wrong referenced a bylaw standard that was mentioned in very fine print and I wouldn’t ever have known without scouring the thick reference guide.

So - be assured, that if you ever work with a LEED-AP, they what they're doing.

Well, back to studying, wish me luck.


GreenNewscaster said...

I just noticed how old this post was..back from 2007. The test has since been revised and there will be a new one this spring. I actually will be attending a course by Clean Edison ( here in the Austin area so that I can pass the exam..I've heard many people comment on how difficult it is so I do not want to take any chances! Plus they came highly recommended. I encourage anyone to explore this exam as I believe most jobs will eventually be geared towards "green" building.

Anonymous said...

Classes are often too expensive and not worth it, unless you don't want to self study - which is the surest recipe for disaster LEED type exams...

IMHO, You should just study the material and flash cards (cheap/free) and take a few online tests, offered by a number of people, such as GEP ($50) or ($20). Do a couple of tests early - because that will tell you what topics to focus on - and then finish off with a couple of them again after prep is complete. You'll do fine.

Lynn Peters

whit said...

Burt-watts buildings to unquie commercial iteriors, This seems to be a great site which offers LEED Construction Austin, Green Construction Austin, LEED and Green Construction Austin etc and i would surely like to try their service...i had been relying on Commercial Construction Austin earlier and they too offered good stuff.