The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) created guidelines for green building called Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®). LEED® designations, also known as credentials, were developed for architects, interior designers, and building operators to be certified to work in the green, or sustainable, building field. The LEED® Accredited Professional (AP) designation is a mid-level LEED® certification.
The entity that awards LEED® designations is the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI). LEED® credentials include LEED® Green Associate, LEED® AP, and LEED® Fellow. Green building professionals who want LEED® credentials must study materials and pass different exams. There is a fee for each course and exam. Candidates who work for a company that belongs to the USGBC qualify for discounted exam fees.
Building professionals who want a LEED® AP credential must first pass the LEED® Green Associate exam. This designation indicates a basic knowledge of green construction, operations, and building design. To continue in the LEED® credential program, there are various LEED® designations available for different specialty studies, or tracks. Professionals can take each track and exam together, or one at a time.
The LEED® AP Operations and Maintenance track focuses on running existing green buildings efficiently. The LEED® AP Building Design and Construction designation is for professionals who want to specialize in the design and construction phases of green building. To focus even more on the design of green buildings that use less energy and create less waste, a LEED® AP Homes designation is also available.
There are two additional designations for commercial and large-scale projects. The LEED® AP Interior Design credential is for professionals who want to design and construct commercial buildings and office spaces. For those who want to create environmentally friendly neighborhoods, the LEED® AP Neighborhood Development track may be the best choice.
Green building professionals can obtain study materials for all courses from the USGBC. Candidates should then contact the GBCI for information on how and where to schedule each exam. On the day of the LEED® test, candidates must bring valid photo identification to the testing site. If applying for the USGBC discount, the company membership number must also be provided on the day of the exam.
As with most courses of study, LEED® building ideas and requirements may change over time. New specialty courses of study may be added. Individuals who have acquired the LEED® AP credential must take follow up courses to maintain this designation. These professionals may also move forward and apply for the next level designation, LEED® Fellow.