Navigating the world of LEED certifications, accreditations, and LEED tiers can be incredibly overwhelming. If the thought of LEED tiers brings you to real tears — don’t worry. Our team here at Buffalo Green Products is here to help. In today’s blog, we are going to go over everything we think is important to know about the LEED programs, what they do, and who they are for.
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First thing’s first. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED is widely known for its building rating system and ability to create a more sustainable, environmentally conscientious future. There are currently three different organizations associated with LEED — the USGBC, the GBCI, and Prometric. The USGBC creates the general guidelines, the GBCI handles accreditations and certifications, while Prometric proctors the exams.
LEED Green Associate
A LEED Green Associate is an entry-level accommodation for “those new to green building, plus product manufacturers, students, real estate professionals, and contractors” according to the USGBC itself. The requirements for becoming a LEED associate may sound relatively simple, but don’t be fooled. All you have to do is pass the exam to become a LEED associate and earn 15 hours of continued education every year to maintain your status. Be sure to study hard, though, because the test can cost upwards to $250 and can be very challenging if you walk into it unprepared. The test is two hours long and contains 100 multiple-choice questions.
Becoming a LEED Green Associate shows that you are committed to becoming an environmental leader in the industry and have a vast working knowledge of energy-efficient building codes and practices set forth by the USGBC.
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LEED AP Accreditation
LEED AP stands for LEED Advanced Professional. These credentials are awarded to those who are environmental experts in certain areas of processes. There are five different specialty exams that you can take, and Green Associates are permitted to hold more than one specialty if they choose to do so. Someone who is already a Green Associate can take the specialty only portion of the exam (100 questions), or you can take both the Green Associate and the AP specialty exam in one combined session.
The various specialties include:
BD+C is for Building Design and Construction. People with this specialty are often architects, engineers, or developers that are an integral part of the design and construction phase of a given project. People with this accreditation often serve commercial businesses, residences, government agencies, and more.
O+M is for Operations and Maintenance. Professionals with this certification are often property managers, HVAC technicians, value engineers, and consultants. These people are experts in sustainable day-to-day procedures that can be implemented into existing buildings that can reduce a structures overall carbon footprint.
ID+C is for Interior Design and Construction. Those who hold this certification are often interior designers, decorators, and architects whose work is primarily with hospitals, businesses, and other retailers.
ND stands for Neighborhood Development. People who hold a LEED AP ND certification are individuals actively involved in designing, planning, and developing the layout flow of entire neighborhoods and communities.
Homes stands for, you guessed it, homes. These professionals focus primarily on residences and helping them to become as energy-efficient and eco-friendly as possible.
LEED AP Fellow
Becoming a LEED AP Fellow is the highest honor that can be achieved in the LEED organization. A Fellow exemplifies sustainability, environmental conscientiousness, and overall low carbon footprints. Fellows must have a minimum of eight years of experience and according to the USGBC, “... demonstrate exceptional achievement in key mastery elements related to:
- Technical knowledge and skill
- A history of exemplary leadership in green building
- Significant contributions in teaching, mentoring, or research with proven outcomes
- A history of highly impactful commitment, service, and advocacy for green building and sustainability. “
Furthermore, in order to qualify, you must be nominated by a LEED AP who themselves have to meet certain criteria such as being in good standing, 10 or more years of experience, choosing only one nominee, and more.
Once you have been nominated, you must take an exam that covers technical proficiency, education and mentoring, leadership, commitment and service, and advocacy. Becoming a LEED Fellow is no easy task, if you happen to meet one, you are in rarified air.
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Different LEED Tiers
Different buildings and projects can achieve different LEED tiers. The main tiers are:
It is worth noting that there are certain prerequisites that must be met that don’t count toward your overall lead points. But essentially, you need 40 – 49 points to be certified, 50 – 59 points for the silver tier, 60 – 79 points for the gold tier, and more than 80 points to achieve the platinum tier. With different tiers, there are different rewards. To learn more about the tier rating, view the USGBC website.