Whether or not you’re a green building professional, you’ve probably heard of Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED), which recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices in more than 147 countries and territories around the world. But did you know that LEED doesn’t just certify buildings; it also accredits professionals?
LEED accreditation signiﬁes that you are an active leader and supporter of the green building movement. According to a survey by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI), approximately 85 percent of LEED Accredited Professionals believe that their credential gives them and their organization a competitive advantage. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2011, the number of Green Goods and Services (GGS) jobs increased to over 3.4 million. With so many new jobs specifying the need for green building expertise, LEED accreditation is the way to go!
Tiers of LEED Accreditation
There are two levels of LEED accreditation: the LEED Green Associate (GA) and the LEED Accredited Professional (AP). Whether you’re a student, a recent graduate or a professional, the internationally-recognized LEED GA credential is the first step in establishing yourself as a serious green building professional. The LEED GA exam requires general knowledge of LEED prerequisites and credits.
After passing the LEED GA exam, you may choose to take the LEED AP exam, which requires specific knowledge of the prerequisites and credits for a particular rating system. LEED APs can specialize in:
- 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)
If you are a LEED AP with a Specialty, you have in-depth knowledge of a particular LEED rating system and its building codes and standards.
Note: You may take both exams during the same testing period, but you must still pass the LEED GA exam in order to pass the LEED AP exam.
Eligibility and Steps for Taking the LEED v4 Exam
While you are not required to submit proof of LEED project experience when applying to take the LEED v4 exam, LEED project experience competency will be assessed on the exam, since practical experience is critical to the LEED AP designation. Therefore GBCI strongly urges candidates to gain meaningful project experience prior to taking the test.
LEED v4 Exam Format
The LEED v4 exam is comprised of two parts: the LEED Green Associate exam and the LEED AP w/ Specialty exam. Each part contains 100 randomly delivered multiple choice questions and must be completed in 2 hours. Total seat time for the LEED v4 exam will be 4 hours and 20 minutes including a tutorial and short satisfaction survey.
Exams have both scored and unscored items. All items are delivered randomly throughout the exam and candidates are not informed of an item’s status, so candidates should respond to all the items on the exam. Unscored items are used to gather performance data to inform whether the item should be scored on future exams.
LEED v4 Exam Content & Syllabus – LEED Green Associate Exam
Unlike previous test specifications that focused solely on the Knowledge Domains, which address “What does a LEED professional need to know?”, the LEED v4 test specifications also focus on Task Domains, which address “What does a LEED professional need to do?” Thus, the exams test what a LEED professional needs to do and what they need to know in order to do it safely and effectively.
LEED AP Knowledge Domains:
- LEED Process (8 Questions)
- Integrative Strategies (9 Questions)
- Location & Transportation (9 Questions)
- Sustainable Sites (9 Questions)
- Water Efficiency (9 Questions)
- Energy & Atmosphere (14 Questions)
- Materials & Resources (12 Questions)
- Indoor Environmental Quality (11 Questions)
- Project Surroundings & Public Outreach (4 Questions)
Task Domains reflect the tasks necessary to perform LEED safely and effectively. These include concepts such as LEED Project and Team Coordination, LEED Certification Process, Analyses Required for LEED Credits, and Advocacy and Education for Adoption for LEED Rating System.
Getting Started But Not Sure?
There’s a lot to know for this exam and finding the right information can be confusing. So we at GBRI have outlined a plan for you to successfully take the exam and ways to self-evaluate your progress. Candidates can explore the LEED Green Associate Exam Prep, with the first two modules available for free, providing a solid starting point for their preparation.
What Happens after you become LEED Accredited?
Upon successfully passing the LEED Green Associate Exam, individuals can proudly append “LEED Green Associate” to their names. The next step could be the LEED AP exam. To maintain their credentials, LEED Professionals must accrue continuing education hours: 15 CE hours for LEED Green Associates and 30 CE hours for LEED APs. As a USGBC and AIA Education Provider, GBRI offers comprehensive CE bundles that fulfill these Continuing Maintenance Program (CMP) requirements, with courses accredited by both USGBC and AIA.