Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design

What is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)?

There is a growing demand for green jobs, and the green construction industry is no exception. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) as a green building certification. LEED consists of rating systems for the all aspects of green construction from design through maintenance worldwide.

What is the LEED Associate Program?

LEED began in 1993 by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) senior scientist Robert K. Watson as a broad-based consensus of non-profit organizations, government agencies, architects, environmental engineers, developers, builders, product manufacturers and industry leaders. LEED has grown from a volunteer committee of six inspired people to over 100,000 staff, volunteers and professionals.

LEED has grown and evolved from the vision of one standard for new construction to encompass a wide array of interrelated measures from design through development and ultimately maintenance. Eighty-thousand construction projects worldwide use certified and registered LEED standards.

Except for the states of Alabama, Georgia, Maine, and Mississippi, many U.S. federal agencies and state governments require or reward LEED certification in new public buildings.

Those four states banned the use of LEED in new public building and use other industry standards that the USGBC has deemed lax.

The initial step to becoming LEED certified is to obtain the LEED Green Associate designation. The LEED Green Associate provides strong foundational principles and industry terminology. Non-technical professionals such as marketers, salespeople, designers, students, and support staff benefit from the LEED Green Associate designation in addition to those working on LEED projects directly. Most professionals directly involved in the design, planning, and construction of LEED-certified projects upgrade to LEEP Accredited Professional (LEED AP) with a Specialty designation.

What Skills Will I Learn Studying in a LEED Program?

  • Introduction to green buildings and communities
  • Sustainable thinking
  • Becoming a LEED Green Associate
  • The test process
  • Sustainable minds at work: New plans for building green
  • LEED v4 concepts and themes
  • Overview of USGBC and LEED
  • Location and Transportation
  • Sustainable Sites
  • Water Management
  • Energy and Atmosphere
  • Materials and Resources
  • Indoor Environmental Quality
  • About USGBC and LEED
  • Innovation Regional Priority
  • Exam primary references
  • Test-taking tips
  • Review recommendations
  • Practice exam
  • Next Step as a LEED Green Associate
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How are LEED Courses Taught?

Courses are available on-campuse or online for exam prep in addition to self-study of the LEED Associate Handbook. The exam prep reviews and explains all the categories of the exam and also provides sample tests and test preparation.

There are no eligibility requirements for the LEED Green Associate. The LEED Green Associate designation is the base requirement for the LEED Accredited Professional designation. Candidates pay a fee to sit for a 2-hour exam for certification. Most candidates enroll in an online or campus course to learn the material and prepare for the exam. The minimum age is eighteen, and the Green Buildings Council recommends experience with LEED design.

  • Educational background in environmental design
  • Volunteer work on LEED project
  • Internship or employment on green building projects

Candidates must download the LEED Green Associated Handbook available for free on the LEED website. This handbook covers comprehensive detail on testing, registration, and certification. Courses follow this template providing further detail, instruction and explanation of core principles with opportunities for questioning and test review.

How Long Does it Take to Complete the Program?

The length of time it takes to complete a LEED Green Associate exam prep can vary depending on whether the candidate participates in a live classroom setting or online webinar. Exam prep training lasts 14 hours in a live environment, and 10 hours online. The candidate should invest two to three weeks of self-study of the handbook in addition to the coursework. A motivated candidate could complete the self-study, test prep, and exam within a month's time.

What Kind of Jobs Can I Do With LEED Certification?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these are some of the salaries in different positions that are available currently for those with LEED certification.

  • Project Engineer $88,570
  • Interior Designer $57,060
  • Architectural Engineer $82,230

2020 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary figures and job growth projections for Civil Engineers, Interior Designers, and Architects reflect national data not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed September 2021.

What are the Benefits of Being LEED Certified?

LEED certification offers a multitude of benefits for construction companies and projects:

  • LEED saves money by increasing building efficiency.
  • LEED accreditation builds credibility by its commitment to sustainable architecture.
  • LEED-certified projects often offer tax incentives and have a higher sale and resale values.

The United States Green Building Council reports many benefits and advantages to LEED certification. U.S. federal government agencies were some of the earliest adopters of LEED. Federal buildings are mandated to build to the highest level of efficiency as reported in government requirements.

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How Can I Get More Information on the LEED Associate Program?

Information is readily available online at https://new.usgbc.org/credentials. This website is an excellent reference for learning more about LEED credentialing and its impact on the future of sustainable construction.