What it Really Means to be LEED Accredited

Leed Accredited

Leed Accredited Building

Throughout the architectural environment, people use the LEED term without complete understanding. The revered term applies to an individual’s credentials as an accreditation. When referring to a structure, it is a certification. The personal accreditation is an in-depth process requiring various amounts of work and dedication. Confusion about the delineation of titles arises for numerous reasons.

First, there are various levels of LEED Professional Credentials. These include Green Associate, LEED AP, and LEED Fellow. Within those divisions, separate specializations are obtainable. Each category requires a different process for completion. The simplest process is to become a LEED Green Associate which “denotes basic knowledge of green design, construction and operations”. This title is obtainable by passing one of two exams and a level of experience with LEED. The GBCI will consider appropriate experience to be either work with a certified LEED project, employment in a sustainable field, or completion of a green principle education. (Most universities employ sustainable qualities in their curriculums) To maintain this status, “LEED Green Associates are required by GBCI to complete and report 15 Continuing Education (CE) hours each reporting period; 3 of these hours must be LEED- specific.”  Green Associate is the most likely certification for students or recent graduates.

Becoming LEED AP is a bit more complicated. According the Green Building Certification Institute, LEED AP requires “a demonstration of an advanced level of green building knowledge and LEED practices through testing as well as ongoing credential maintenance either through continuing education and practical experience or through biennial retesting.” LEED AP may also have five various specialties. All certifications at the AP level require individuals to have documented involvement in a certified LEED project. Due to the current economic downfall, firm layoffs, and limited building, LEED project experience is a challenge for architects to obtain. Maintenance for this title requires 30 hours CE for every 2 years. The exam challenges the applicant’s understanding of the LEED rating system and their ability to facilitate a project’s LEED certification process.

The newest category is the LEED Fellow title. It requires nominees to be LEED AP for at least the previous 8 years, and 10 years of experience in green building. The nominees are evaluated on technical proficiency, education and mentoring, leadership, commitment and service, and advocacy. The certification is a wonderful reward, but challenging to obtain.

The process of obtaining a LEED credential is challenging and requires a lot of hard work. The title differentiates individuals in the growing green industry and allows for individual expertise. While the process is overwhelming and rewarding for architects, the title benefits others as well. Understanding the differences in titles “provides employers, policy makers, and other stakeholders with assurances of an individual’s level of competence and is the mark of the most qualified, educated, and influential green building professionals in the marketplace”. So, while the process becomes more cumbersome for architects, the rest of the world appreciates the challenges and delineations of yet another sustainable term.

Information from (http://www.usgbc.org/DisplayPage.aspx?CMSPageID=2191).

Samantha Smigelski