LEED Certification for ESCs

Getting With the Program

What is LEED?

The first step to LEED certification is having an understanding of what it actually is. According to the USGBC, “LEED provides building owners and operators a concise framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.” Basically, it is a certification system for green-building practices.

Buildings achieve certification through points earned in a number of categories. These include neighborhood development; retail, school and healthcare facilities; homes; the core and shell of a building; new construction; commercial interiors; and existing buildings. Each category has its own set of criteria based on five subcategories: sustainable site development, water savings, materials selection, indoor environmental quality and, most importantly for the ESC, energy efficiency. These subcategories are assigned a maximum number of points that can be achieved by meeting the different criteria for each. The total number of points determines the building’s certification level: certified, silver, gold or platinum.

There are also different levels of LEED certification for individuals. A Green Associate (GA) is educated and knowledgeable about green building practices in non-technical fields of practice. An LEED Accredited Professional (AP) will have green-building expertise and will specialize in a particular LEED category, such as homes or building design and construction. At the highest level, a LEED Fellow would be someone who actually contributes to the standards and body of knowledge of the LEED.

Getting Certified

So how do you go about getting LEED certification? The process itself is actually pretty simple, but it is by no means easy. So let’s start with the simple part.

To become a certified LEED GA, you must take a two-hour, 100-question, computer-based exam. There are eligibility requirements to sit for the exam, but as an ESC you should have no problem meeting them. They include working on a project certified for LEED, employment in a sustainable field of work or participation in an education program that addresses green-building practices. And of course, no exam would be complete without a fee. Between the application and exam fees, non-USGBC members can expect to pay $250, while members and full-time students will pay $200.

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