An Architect's LEED Certification

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An Architect's LEED Certification
LEED architects are experts in green building practices. (Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) created the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. Third-party organisations award this certificate to buildings after verifying a building's design meets environmentally friendly standards. The USGBC allows an architect to earn a LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP) or LEED Green Associate title to show that she is aware of green architecture practices per the LEED rating system.

Overview of LEED

The USGBC began issuing LEED certifications in 1998 and provided a standard for green building construction, design and operations. Buildings that are LEED certified use water efficiently, save energy, help reduce CO2 emissions, use resources responsibly, have a minimal impact on the environment and meet standards for indoor environmental quality. The more standards a building meets, the more points it receives towards earning a bonus LEED category. LEED categories include certified, silver, gold and platinum. The expertise of architects with a LEED credential can help ensure a building owner receives the LEED rating desired.

LEED Categories

There are five main LEED categories and nine rating systems regarding the construction and design of building projects. The five main categories are also the names of the different types of specialities within the LEED Accredited Professional program -- green building design and construction, green interior design and construction, green building operations and maintenance, green neighbourhood development, and green home design and construction. The categories that apply to most architects are green building design and construction, green interior design and construction and green home design and construction.

LEED Credentials

Architects can earn three main credentials ---the LEED Green Associate, LEED AP and the LEED AP Fellow. An architect who is just starting out should seek the LEED Green Associate credential. Those who already have that credential can become a LEED AP. Architects with a LEED AP credential earn a LEED AP Fellow credential after making significant contributions to the green building industry. For architects, the LEED AP credential is available for those who specialise in building design and construction (LEED AP BD+C), interior design and construction (LEED AP ID+C) and LEED AP Homes. Each LEED AP credential has its own training courses and examination.

LEED Credentialing Process

To earn a LEED Green Associate credential, an architect must complete the respective training course or have proof of work experience on a LEED building project before sitting for the examination, which the Green Building Certification Institute offers. The LEED Green Associate test takes two hours, asks 100 questions about the LEED rating system and concepts and requires a score of 85 per cent to pass. A specialised LEED AP Tier II exam requires an architect to have the LEED Green Associate credential and experience working on a LEED project before sitting for the exam. The Tier II exam also has 100 questions and passing score of 85 per cent. Questions on this exam test an architect's understanding of her respective LEED speciality. An individual does not need to sit for an exam to earn a LEED AP Fellow credential, as this award is based on merit and experience.

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