Posts tagged ‘leed rating system’

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 The “Legacy LEED AP” title has now been replaced by the “LEED AP without Specialty” title for this group of professionals.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 Certified Buildings Must Do Green Cleaning

A recent change to the indoor environmental quality section of the LEED Rating System mandates that buildings must implement a green cleaning policy in order to qualify for LEED Certification and re-certification. What this means is that companies and facility owners must approach cleaning in the same serious and committed fashion that they approach the building’s overall sustainability.

Healthy alternatives to traditional cleaners must also meet LEED standards in order to qualify. Such cleaning programs are highly accessible through the USGBC, International Sanity Supply Association, Green Seal, EPA, and other resources. One safe measure is to keep an eye out for labels that include caution statements such as “may cause severe eye irritation.” If these statements appear on a product label, the cleaning program probably does not qualify under LEED’s new standard. Some believe is costs less money to trade in traditional cleaning products for certified sustainable products than it does to pay for exposure control devices such as gloves, masks, goggles, and other methods of protection.

In addition, the new LEED standard asks suppliers to be fully transparent about the chemicals used in their products and then asks them to provide certified, safe alternative products. Under current U.S. regulations, cleaning product suppliers are not required to fully disclose chemicals in their products.

The updated 2012 LEED Rating System intends to ensure the long-term “staying power” of LEED Certification. In the process, the USGBC will be implementing more stringent criteria to help raise the bar for buildings.

January 17, 2012 at 3:01 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

LEED Certification Process: Before the Exam

Achieving a LEED Credential can be quite a process. It requires more than simply taking an exam and calling it a day. The purpose of attaining such a certification is to demonstrate one’s expertise in the green building industry. This persona should be supported by extensive preparation, experience, knowledge, and maintenance. In fact, the USGBC requires that a LEED candidate undergo multiple criteria to be eligible for different tiers in the LEED Rating System.

The mandatory first step for an individual is to take LEED Exam Prep training. The main benefit of taking a LEED preparation course is the time that it saves. A student who attends a training course easily saves 3-4 hours of time for each hour that they spend in a concentrated learning environment. For example, someone taking a class might spend 14 hours in the classroom and another 20 hours studying for a total of 34 hours, compared to an individual studying on their own who might easily spend more than 100 hours trying to get to the same level of competency. So, the question is really about how someone values saving 70 hours of their time.

To choose a good program, a student should look at third-party indicators of their quality. Is the program from an accredited school? Is the organization offering the program an education provider for the U.S. Green Building Council? What do online reviews from former students say about the program?

The programs that waste students’ money most often are from small and inexperienced companies who do not have the expertise to properly design a course to successfully prepare students for their exam. Does the program reference former clients? Are they partnered with large corporations and universities for delivery of their classes?

Upon completion of the LEED prep class, an individual should take 2-3 weeks of self-study time to really make sure they understand the information that will be on the LEED Exam. They should have received a Certificate of Completion from their training provider, which will give them eligibility to register for the LEED Exam. It is within this time period that an individual is recommended to schedule their LEED Exam. Having a test date looming in the horizon is an especially high motivator.

November 28, 2011 at 2:00 pm Leave a comment

LEED 2012: Faster, Cheaper, More Automatic

Since its inception in 1993, LEED has grown to include over 120,000 individuals from all over the world and has been used to build more than 3.6 billion square feet of space sustainably. The LEED certification and accreditation processes have greatly contributed to the growing interest – and ensuing standardization – of sustainable design in commercial buildings. However, now that LEED has become an industry norm, it seems reasonable to reevaluate the rating system and ensure that it is as effective as it claims to be.Having faced this issue in 2009, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) adjusted the LEED Rating System to accommodate the changing industry and meet the needs of individuals from all occupational backgrounds who wanted to learn about sustainability and green building. A little over two years later, the USGBC is having to consider making more changes to the LEED system. This time, the expected changes will be less about attracting new audiences and more about validating the effectiveness of the system as a whole.This discussion has come about as a result of engineers and project managers complaining that LEED points were too easy to achieve and sometimes did not make sense for the building’s overall sustainability. The LEED system may reward a larger number of points for a particular concept that has been integrated into the project, even when there are larger issues at hand that would benefit the building more. For example, many cited the fact that a bike rack earned points in a building that might have a faulty boiler. How can people take a building’s LEED certification status seriously if LEED project managers are only concerned with integrating attributes that will grant them the largest number of points?

It is with these concerns in mind that the USGBC is looking to develop its enhanced LEED Rating System, now being called LEED 2012. It is expected to launch in November and then go to USGBC members for a vote next summer.

One major update to the process is the addition of new technology and building practices that make real-time energy and water management commercially viable. The inability to track a LEED building’s energy savings over time has been a serious issue for those pursuing LEED Certification. For those investing so much time and money into the process, they need to be able to show documented proof that the investment was worth it. Similarly, building owners and project managers see the value in comparing their building’s energy savings to similar buildings in the area. The USGBC is working with a database called the Green Building Information Gateway, which allows an owner to tap into comparable data from similar buildings. Essentially, LEED 2012 aims to take LEED Certification to the next level.

These early predictions surrounding LEED 2012 demonstrate the USGBC’s dedication to sustainability and consumer satisfaction. It seems this revamped system will address much of the criticism that has come to surface in the last two years. We expect LEED 2012 standards to add value to a building’s LEED Certification status via post-certification reporting and new recertification requirements. We also want to commend the USGBC for acknowledging the changing needs of the industry and always striving for the most comprehensive and progressive green building standard.

November 22, 2011 at 8:39 pm Leave a comment


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