LEED AP Credential Overview

What is the LEED AP Credential?

Once you’ve demonstrated your knowledge of green building practices by becoming a LEED Green Associate (GA) the next step is to become a LEED Accredited Professional, or “LEED AP”.  This prestigious USGBC credential confirms your practical knowledge in a specific area of focus and dedication to the green building movement to current and future employers, clients and colleagues.  Remember, LEED certifications are awarded to buildings and credentials are earned by people.


How Do I Become a LEED Accredited Professional?

Like the LEED Green Associate, LEED Accredited Professionals pass a 100-question exam administered by the Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) to earn their credential. Then, LEED Accredited Professionals are required to maintain their credentials by earning continuing education over two-year credentialing periods.


Who Benefits from Becoming a LEED AP?

LEED AP credentials are most valuable to professionals who directly interact with the design, construction or operation of buildings as part of their regular job function.  Although not restrictive, these tend to be individuals in the following positions:

  • ArchitectsGreen Business People Ecology Environmental Conservation Concept
  • Engineers (MEP, Civil, Electrical, Building, HVAC, etc.)
  • Contractors
  • Interior Designers
  • Project Managers
  • Commissioning Agents
  • LEED consultants, Environmental Advisers & Sustainability Consultants
  • Construction Managers
  • Property Managers
  • Owners
  • Building Operators
  • Anyone else that works in Commercial Real Estate


What Are the Different Specialty Credentials?

Since LEED 2009 (LEED v3), Accredited Professionals have designated specialties.  Many architects and engineers will acquire one or two specialty credentials related to their core job function while LEED consultants tend to acquire a wide array of credentials given the span of their roles.  There is no limit to the number of credentials a single individual may have.

LEED AP BD+C Logo; LEED AP BD+C Logo with drop shadow; LEED AP BD+C Exam Prep;LEED AP ID+C Logo; LEED AP ID+C Logo with drop shadow; LEED AP ID+C Exam Prep;LEED AP O+M Logo; LEED AP O+M Logo with drop shadow; LEED AP O+M Exam Prep;LEED AP ND Logo; LEED AP ND Logo with drop shadow; LEED AP ND Exam Prep;LEED AP HOMES Logo; LEED AP HOMES Logo with drop shadow; LEED AP HOMES Exam Prep;


Becoming a LEED AP with specialty requires the LEED Green Associate credential. You can take both exams back to back in one day. However, most people will study for one at a time because the knowledge base is extensive for a LEED AP.

For example, the LEED AP BD+C credential indicates that you know how to lead a design and construction project team to LEED NC certification. The LEED AP O+M credential demonstrates that you can successfully lead an operations team to LEED EB certification. More about each credential in detail:

    • 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.
    • BD+C stands for Building Design and Construction (new construction and major renovation)


    • 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.
    • ID+C stands for Interior Design and Construction (commercial interiors)


    • 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.
    • O+M stands for Operations and Maintenance (existing buildings)


    • 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.
    • ND stands for Neighborhood Development


  • LEED AP Homes
    • Suited for those involved in the design and construction of healthy, durable homes that use fewer resources and produce less waste.
    • HOMES stands for Homes (residential)


How Difficult is a LEED Specialty Exam?

Compared to the Green Associate exam, the LEED AP exam focuses less on high-level knowledge of sustainable building concepts and more on the practical application of those concepts.  Because there are multiple AP credentials, the tests are focused around the specialty rating system of your choosing.  LEED AP exams are considerably more technical in nature and, as a result, are more difficult that the Green Associate exam.


How Long Does the Credential Last?

Just like your LEED Green Associate, LEED AP credentials last indefinitely as long as they are maintained with continuing education every two years.  Unlike LEED GA, however, 30 hours of continuing education are required vs. 15.  Note if a Green Associate continues to the next level and becomes a LEED AP within their two-year credentialing period, the Green Associate credential is extended and due for renewal at the same time as the new LEED AP credential.  GBES makes continuing education easy and saves you time with features like automatic reporting to the USGBC/GBCI and AIA.  Our GBES UNLIMITED solution is an affordable way to never worry about CE hours for any of your sustainable building credentials.


Ready to Study for a LEED AP Exam?

GBES has proven exam prep material for every LEED AP Specialty with 95% of our students passing on their first attempt.  Select a study tool that meets your budget and learning style below.  All GBES products are developed by LEED professionals with numerous credentials and have a 100% money-back guarantee.

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