Posts tagged ‘green building’

How to Get Started With LEED

One of the most common questions we see is, “How do I get started with LEED?” LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the leading green building standard around the world. If you’re working in the architecture, engineering, or construction industries, you’ve probably heard the acronym tossed around by your colleagues. Before you dive into the rabbit role of Google searches (because trust me, there will be THOUSANDS of websites about LEED Certification), let’s go over the major things you need to know.

History of LEED
The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) created the LEED standard in 1993 to set a benchmark for the design, construction, and operations of “green” buildings. Since its inception, LEED has undergone a series of updates in order to stay relevant and provide effective solutions for the future.

Enter LEED Version 4
We’re now in the fourth version of the LEED standard. The LEED v4 exams debuted on June 30, 2014. Anyone who pursues LEED at this point will be preparing for a LEED v4 credential.

Speaking of Credentials…
The first step you will take to enter the LEED industry is to earn a LEED Green Associate credential. This designation is required for all green building professionals who want to pursue LEED. The LEED Green Associate designation is for anyone who wants an understanding of basic green building principles.

What Comes Next?
After you earn your LEED Green Associate, you have two options.

If you are satisfied at the LEED Green Associate level, you will need to work toward acquiring 15 hours of continuing education over the next two years. That’s all it takes to maintain your credential. This must be done every two years.

If you are interested in diving deeper into the LEED industry, you might consider earning an advanced LEED credential, known as a LEED Accredited Professional with Specialty. There are five specialties to be had – Building Design and Construction, Operations and Maintenance, Interior Design and Construction, Homes, and Neighborhood Development. As you can see, each of these specialties aligns with different roles or goals in the green building process. Should you decide to pursue a LEED AP credential, your continuing education requirements increase to 30 hours over two years.

Let’s Take a Step Back

If you’re reading this article, you are probably brand new to the industry or fairly new to LEED. To get started, you will want to enroll in a LEED training course – a LEED Green Associate course, to be specific. In this class, you will get an introduction to LEED and learn about the concepts that will be on the credentialing exam. Following your LEED exam prep course, you will schedule your LEED exam at a nearby Prometric Testing Center. The LEED Green Associate exam has 100 multiple-choice questions. You will be required to score 170 out of 200 to pass.

Right now, you may be feeling overwhelmed, but I promise, it doesn’t have to be this way. The great thing about taking an exam prep course is that you not only hone in on the exam concepts, but you’ll gain a holistic view of why LEED is important, how it benefits the environment, what you can do with a LEED credential, and information about the exam interface. The purpose of an exam prep course is to put you at ease and make the process of acquiring a LEED designation less stressful! And it works, too. Check out our reviews page where our students talk about how effectiveness their LEED exam prep course was. To find the closest LEED course to you, please visit our LEED Green Associate Training page.

July 31, 2014 at 3:08 pm 1 comment

The “LEED AP Without Specialty” Controversy

You may have heard the term LEED AP before, though you might not be aware of the layers that live within this title.

When the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Rating System was established in 1993, it was determined that an individual who passed the LEED Exam would earn the title of a LEED AP, or LEED Accredited Professional.

LEED Version 3’s arrival in June 2009 brought a number of changes and enhancements with it, including a new tiered credentialing system. No longer would a successful exam candidate become simply a LEED AP. LEED v3 introduced new titles called LEED Green Associate, LEED AP (with Specialty), and LEED AP Fellow.

So what did this mean for the so-called Legacy LEED APs, and what does this mean now that we are entering LEED Version 4?

2009-2013: To Opt In or Not to Opt In

When LEED v3 debuted, the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) invited the Legacy LEED APs to upgrade their accreditation by declaring a specialty and then completing a 30-hour credential maintenance program before fall 2011. The other option was to simply re-take the LEED Exam.

LEED AP not wanting to re-take the LEED Exam

In November 2012, the GBCI offered another route for remaining Legacy LEED APs to earn a specialty, which was to complete a “Principles of LEED” program, which was comprised of six online modules and corresponding quizzes. In order to upgrade to the v3 credential, a Legacy LEED AP had to agree to the USGBC Disciplinary Policy, agree to complete continuing education requirements, and pay the biannual maintenance fee.

At the end of the day, Legacy LEED APs could carry their credential to their grave, if they had wanted. The GBCI indicated that LEED APs who did not want to opt into the new requirements could stay a LEED AP and remain in the GBCI database. In addition, LEED APs could work on LEED v3 projects and earn a point in the Innovation in Design category for being a LEED AP. (In 2013, it was announced that LEED APs without Specialty would no longer earn the Innovation point. In fact, LEED APs withSpecialty who want to earn the extra point now have to be working on a LEED project related to their specialty.)

What would you have done?

2014 and Beyond

Here we are in 2014 on the cusp of the LEED Version 4 launch (set for June 30). The “Legacy LEED AP” title has now been replaced by the “LEED AP without Specialty” title for this group of professionals.

In a discussion on the USGBC LinkedIn Group page, a LEED AP without Specialty recently noted that his listing on the GBCI directory was no longer visible. This led many LEED APs without Specialty to believe that they were being permanently ommitted due to not opting into Version 3 or 4.

Quite a debate ensued, with some LEED APs arguing that they felt pressure to upgrade simply as a means of being included publicly among their esteemed peers in the industry. For them, the omission from the GBCI directory would add a layer of complication for times when they needed to assure a client that they have, in fact, earned a LEED designation. It would also mean having to retain their official certificates and keeping their GBCI numbers on file in case they needed to show proof of their accreditation.

Others argued that it wasn’t appropriate to recognize the LEED APs without Specialty to the same degree as the newer professionals who have made a point to stay abreast of the current developments in green building through continuing education. Many LEED APs without Specialty, they said, might have passed the exam half a decade ago but since remained inactive and disconnected to the green building world of today. 

Thankfully, a representative from the USGBC commented on the discussion and noted that some individuals’ listings were not set to “Viewable.” She recommended that LEED APs without Specialty log into their accounts, complete their profiles, and make sure that the profile is set to Viewable. This would resolve any misunderstanding about whether LEED APs without Specialty are still included in the GBCI directory. 

Legacy LEED AP is Now LEED AP without Specialty

Keep checking in with us for the latest news regarding LEED Version 4 and LEED Accreditation. Visit our LEED Training page to view a full listing of our green building courses.

May 23, 2014 at 1:29 pm Leave a comment

LEED AP Exams Will Cover LEED Online Material

With the development of LEED Version 4, the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) has proposed a number of changes to the LEED exam process. One of the items that we’re going to discuss today is the LEED project experience requirement.

First, let’s discuss how things currently work. After acquiring the LEED Green Associate accreditation, professionals are encouraged to participate on a real LEED project. The goal is to gain exposure to and familiarity with the LEED project process. You must secure a Letter of Attestation from the project manager, confirming your participation. This Letter of Attestation essentially qualifies you to sit for the LEED AP with Specialty exam. You submit the letter to the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI, the sister organization to USGBC that handles accreditation). At that point, you are able to move forward with taking your LEED AP exam. The exam has few questions that touch upon your LEED project experience, namely identifying that LEED Online is the software tool used to manage the project documentation. The bulk of the exam questions relate to the LEED Rating System for which you are attempting a specialty. This will be the process until June 15, 2014.

After June 15, the Letter of Attestation will no longer be required to sit for the LEED AP exam. However, the project experience requirement won’t totally be null and void. In fact, it will actually be more important than ever because the LEED AP exam will start to feature more in-depth questions about LEED Online. According to the USGBC, students can expect to be asked questions about how to use LEED Online; it will no longer be sufficient to simply know what LEED Online is used for. The exam will actually test a candidate on the real application of LEED Online. “Without ever registering a project, or observing someone register a project, the candidate will not know how to answer the LEED Online questions,” stated USGBC. “Without participating in a charette, the candidate may not be able to answer questions on the integrative process.”

So what does this mean for your professional journey and aspirations to acquire an advanced LEED credential? You could look at it two ways…

  • Before June 15, you must participate on a LEED project to receive your Letter of Attestation and qualify for the LEED AP exam (under LEED Version 3), or
  • After June 15, you must participate on a LEED project to utilize LEED Online, and be ready to answer questions about it on the LEED AP exam (under LEED Version 4).

Whichever path you choose, consider that Everblue’s LEED Project Experience course will prepare you for both scenarios. Our course will supply you with the Letter of Attestation needed pre-June 15 and will also give you in-depth experience working within LEED Online should you choose the post-June 15 path. For more questions about the LEED project experience changes, please call 800-460-2575.

April 21, 2014 at 12:56 pm Leave a comment

LEED Certification More Affordable in 2012

Dan Probst, chairman of energy and sustainability at Jones Lang LaSalle, recently published a report in which he discussed the affordability of LEED Certification. For years, individuals criticized the LEED Certification process for being too costly. Probst now makes the case the LEED is the standard for building design and construction certainly in the United States, and potentially around the world.
Due to its massive growth and international acceptance, LEED Certification has become a more affordable process for those wanting to participate.In the beginning, LEED Certification was expensive. Just like any new product that fills individuals with excitement and apprehension, LEED was this mysterious and exclusive green building standard that was hot on the market. Architects, engineers, and other building professionals who wanted to be on the cutting edge of their industries looked into LEED Certification and were faced with question of whether or not to pursue it. It was so new, and the results weren’t exactly quantifiable. Was it worth it to spend so much?
In the beginning, LEED Certification was probably more of a marketing tool. It was a standard not 100% for reducing environmental impact but more for showing a commitment toward green building and sustainability. It was a status symbol to show that you were a building professional who went through extensive sustainability training, passed a challenging exam, gained a new certification, and went on to consult and advise others on how to implement sustainability into their business practices. Yes, LEED Certification was expensive back in the day, especially when you consider this reasoning.

Now, however, numerous sustainability reports have shown the effectiveness of LEED Certification. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has updated the LEED Rating System to make its certifications more impactful and substantial. By adjusting and validating the process, LEED Certification has found its way to the top. It is now standard for building professionals to be aware of the LEED Certification process and to make plans to pursue a certification.

Probst goes on to say, “It’s actually less expensive to design and build to the U.S. Green Building Council LEED standards today. Recycled building materials used to be rare, and cost more, but now they’re so common that they cost less. In other cases, the upfront cost of sustainable features is still higher, but the payback period is so short that it’s an easy call. A good example is lighting; if you need to retrofit a lighting system, LED may cost more but the savings in energy and labor costs are far greater than the upfront cost.”

When the iPod was first introduced, it cost hundreds of dollars. Now you can purchase one for less than $100. All new products are expensive in the beginning. It takes consumer passion and commitment to validate the product, but once it is proven to be legitimate and successful, the cost goes down.

The total amount of square feet of LEED certified space now stands at about 1.7 billion, and there’s still a long way to go. It’s much easier now to become involved in the LEED Certification process, so let’s continue this momentum!

January 9, 2012 at 1:18 pm Leave a comment

More LEED Retrofits Than New Construction

The U.S. Green Building Council announced this month that LEED Certification for existing buildings has surpassed LEED Certification for new construction. The square footage of LEED certified existing buildings surpassed LEED certified new construction by 15 million square feet. The explosive growth of existing building retrofits since 2008 certainly illustrates a change in the sustainability and green building fields. Historically, LEED Certification for new construction (which corresponds with the LEED AP Building Design & Construction credential for individuals) was overwhelmingly most popular, both in volume and square footage. Over the last three years, however, existing building retrofits have taken off and become more commonplace than new construction. New construction in general has slowed down, and sustainability professionals have seen a need in the marketplace to retrofit the buildings we already own and operate to lower costs and increase efficiency.“The U.S. is home to more than sixty billion square feet of existing commercial buildings, and we know that most of those buildings are energy guzzlers and water sieves,” said Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO & Founding Chair of the U.S. Green Building Council, in a statement. “Greening these buildings takes hands-on work, creating precious jobs, especially for construction workers.” He goes on to note that making these existing buildings energy and water efficient has an enormous positive impact on the building’s cost of operations, while the improvements in indoor air quality that go with less toxic cleaning solutions and better filtration systems create healthier environments for those who live and work in such buildings.

Three high-profile LEED: Existing Buildings O&M skyscraper retrofits in recent years are the case in point: the Empire State Building (New York City), Taipei 101 (Taipei) and the Transamerica Pyramid (San Francisco). Green upgrades to these buildings have resulted not only in certification, but in energy savings of $4.4 million, $700,00 and $700,000, respectively.

If you are looking to achieve your LEED Accreditation, it might behoove you to learn about the LEED AP Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance credential. This is the direction green building is going, for now. Until new construction ramps up, it is certainly of paramount importance to retrofit the buildings we currently use to become more sustainable.

December 20, 2011 at 3:40 pm Leave a comment

Nevada Has Most LEED Certified Buildings Per Capita

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) recently identified the state of Nevada as the leader in green building. The state has 10.92 square feet of LEED certified buildings per capita. New Mexico ranked second with 6.35 square feet per capita, followed by New Hampshire (4.49), Oregon (4.07), and South Carolina (3.19). So why is Nevada so determined, and how are builders maintaining this lead?Leon Mead, Las Vegas attorney and council member, indicates that developers are eligible for a variety of credits through the water district and power company if they build green buildings. The critical advantages, he says, are property tax and sales and use tax abatements. Unfortunately, these tax incentives from the state really only apply to commercial buildings, so as a result, there are more LEED projects in the commercial space than there are in residential buildings.

The Centennial Hills Library in northwest Las Vegas, which received 45 points in five environmental categories from the LEED Rating System, was identified as one of the most notable LEED certified projects in the nation.

The library’s exterior glazing, stone, stucco and metal shade structures result in a building reflective of the desert environment, the report said. Interior materials include low-maintenance terrazzo flooring, recyclable carpet, ecoresin panels and linoleum countertops.

Natural lighting reduces the need for electric lights during daylight hours, cutting down on heat gain and cooling costs. Other green elements include an extensive recycling program, water-efficient landscaping and automatic photocell-based controls.

Nevada continues to lead the way in green building by converting its existing buildings to LEED standards. The Sands Expo and Convention Center changed its heating, ventilation and air conditioning system and retrofitted low-flow toilets for LEED certification in maintenance and operations. Sometimes the existing building retrofits are even more special than the building design and construction phases. You get a real look at how much energy you are saving year-to-year.

To be clear, Nevada’s #1 ranking in the country was determined by measuring the amount of green building space per capita. Measuring green building per capita, or for every person, instead of by the number of projects or total square footage is a reminder that the people who use those buildings matter the most, council Senior Vice President Scot Horst said.

Congratulations to the commercial developers in Nevada, as well as the building professionals in New Mexico, New Hampshire, Oregon, and South Carolina! LEED Certification is fast becoming an industry standard. Through tax incentives and general awareness/acceptance, we’re likely to see even more green building in the coming years.

December 12, 2011 at 2:44 pm 1 comment

Vestas “LEEDs” the Way in Europe

Vestas Wind Power Systems recently moved into their new headquarters in Aarhus, Denmark. The wind turbine manufacturer will soon be honored for having the first LEED Platinum certified building in Europe. This distinction creates a beautiful mix of passion toward wind energy and green building. Who better to set a standard than companies within similar industries?

The headquarters has been called the “House of Vestas” and will join an elite list of approximately 150 commercial buildings in the world that have also accomplished LEED Certification. The building features Denmark’s largest geothermal installation and uses only 50% as much energy as a similarly sized facility.

We’re excited about this announcement because it shows that the company is devoted to sustainability on levels beyond their immediate scope. Their U.S.-based headquarters in Portland is also aiming to achieve LEED Platinum Certification. We hope to see more companies, within the sustainability sector and not, who will look into the benefits of energy efficiency.

Not sure where to start? Afraid to admit that you are behind in the sustainability chatter? It’s time you learn more about green building, energy efficiency, and how the two intertwine. Navigate the LEED Rating System and learn everything you need to know to become an energy efficiency expert.

December 5, 2011 at 2:16 pm Leave a comment

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