LEED Certification & Accreditation 101

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LEED is a globally recognized green building rating system

LEED is the most popular green building rating and credentialing system in the world. Used in 165 countries and territories, LEED seeks to ensure the mindful development, construction and maintenance of buildings in a way that benefits occupants and the environment by reducing waste and conserving resources. Over 2.2 million square feet of projects are LEED certified each day!

LEED is an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design

LEED was created by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)


The Value of LEED Credentials

Adding a LEED credential to your name is a feather in your cap. It advances your career and opens doors to a greener future. The sustainable building industry is growing at an exponential rate and the world needs more LEED Green Associates and LEED APs to help certify ALL buildings around the globe.


LEED Certification vs. LEED Accreditation & Credentials

“LEED certification” is sometimes used interchangeably to refer to both buildings and professionals. Officially, people earn LEED accreditation (or “LEED credentials”) and buildings are LEED certified.

LEED building certifications are divided into four levels based on 100 possible points (plus 10 bonus points) earned in six key categories and additional points based on regional priority or design innovation:

Certified:  40–49 points
Silver:  50-59 points
Gold:  60-79 points
Platinum:  80+ points

Note: In addition to these optional points that you must earn for the different certification levels, all project need to meet all of the “LEED prerequisites”. Prerequisites include things such as meeting a minimum energy and water efficiency level, for example.

Two Tiers of Professional Accreditation

Note: Passing the LEED Green Associate exam is a prerequisite to taking the LEED AP with Specialty exams.

Becoming LEED accredited starts with learning green building fundamentals, and earns you a credential designation after successfully passing the 100-question LEED Green Associate exam administered by the Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI). This credential confirms that you understand integrated project delivery and can make meaningful contributions to a LEED project team.

The LEED Green Associate is ideal for students and professionals who need basic awareness of LEED principles and practices and want to market themselves as green building experts. Do you manage or maintain a LEED certified building? Consider becoming a LEED Green associate to help you excel in your work.

image of the 2 tiers of LEED accredidation and their requirements

How LEED green building certification is organized

Since it’s establishment in 2001, USGBC evolved the original LEED reference guide (BD+C) into a family of rating systems (NC, CI, EB) that address specific building use types. Today, multiple LEED rating systems establish specific framework and performance metrics by building type.

  • LEED BD+C for New Construction and Major Renovations
    • Building Design and Construction reference guide applies to whole buildings that are being newly constructed or going through a major renovation. Rating Systems include: New Construction, Core & Shell, Schools, Retail, Hospitality, Data Centers, Warehouses & Distribution Centers, and Healthcare.
    • Suits professionals actively working in the design and construction phases of green buildings. Perfect for Architects, Engineers, Construction Superintendents, HVAC designers and installers, and specialty consultants.
  • LEED ID+C for Commercial Interiors
    • Interior Design and Construction applies to partial-building projects that are exclusive to interiors. Rating systems include Commercial Interiors, Retail and Hospitality.
    • Serves participants in the design, construction and improvement of commercial interiors and tenant spaces like interior designers, lighting and furniture designers, HVAC technicians, and leasing managers supporting new tenant move-in.
  • LEED O+M for Existing Buildings
    • Operations and Maintenance applies to existing whole buildings that want to be recognized for policies and performance. Rating Systems include: Existing Buildings, Schools, Retail, Hospitality, Data Centers, and Warehouses & Distribution Centers.
    • Distinguishes professionals implementing sustainable practices to improve performance and efficiency while reducing environmental impact in existing buildings. Ideal for asset managers, property managers, facility managers, service vendors, and specialty consultants.
  • LEED ND for Neighborhood Development
    • Applies to new land development projects or redevelopment projects containing residential uses, nonresidential uses, or a mix. Projects can be at any stage of the development process, from conceptual planning to construction; includes Plan and Built Project.
    • Applies to individuals participating in the planning, design and development of walkable, neighborhoods and communities. Design, finance, civic, and policy influencers will benefit from this credential.
  • LEED Homes for Residential Design and Construction
    • Applies to single family homes, low-rise multi-family (one to three stories), or mid-rise multi-family (four to six stories); includes Homes and Multifamily Lowrise and Multifamily Midrise.
    • Suited for those involved in the design and construction of healthy, durable homes that use fewer resources and produce less waste.


Continuing Education Requirements:

All LEED professionals are required to maintain their credential through ongoing continuing education. Each credential renews on a two-year cycle, with the start date the same as the date you pass your exam. The expiration date of your credential is two years minus one day from the start date.

The LEED Credential Maintenance Program (CMP) requires LEED Green Associates to earn 15 hours of unique continuing education in each credential period. Of the 15 total hours, 3 of the hours must be LEED specific. Maintaining your LEED AP with specialty requires that you earn 30 hours of continuing education, including 6 LEED specific.

Do You Have What It Takes To Become A LEED Green Associate?

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