LEED Certification

Introduction to LEED: Everything You Need to Do to Get Accredited

So...You want to be LEED Accredited? Here's how.

Introduction to LEED: Everything You Need to Do to Get Accredited

We commonly hear from professionals that they’re not sure where to get started and that they’re looking for an introduction to LEED. Here’s hoping that we can provide some clarity on what it takes to earn a LEED credential, from the accreditation process to the financial commitment.

Step 1: Pursue LEED Green Associate Accreditation

Once you’ve decided that you want to take your interest in green building to the next level, your first official step will be to work toward a LEED Green Associate Accreditation. Everyone must start at this level, regardless of education, occupation, or experience.

LEED Green Associate logoThe LEED Green Associate credential is a demonstration of one’s knowledge and proficiency regarding the LEED Rating System. Those working toward this credential do not necessarily have to be working on a LEED project. As this is the foundational designation, LEED Green Associate is appropriate for a wide range of occupations, from construction managers and architects to lawyers, product manufacturers, and commercial real estate brokers. Anyone working in, or hoping to work in, the green construction industry will find value in the LEED Green Associate credential. LEED Green Associate is, indeed, the best introduction to LEED concepts.

To be awarded this designation, a professional must pass a 2-hour online exam with a score of 170 out of 200. The exam is comprised of 100 questions with each question weighted differently.

For those with less experience in the green construction industry or those who lack knowledge of the LEED Rating System, an exam prep course is recommended. Just as students participate in SAT Prep classes to prepare for their college admissions exams, building professionals participate in LEED exam prep classes to prepare for their LEED exam.

Action Item: Enroll in a LEED Green Associate Exam Prep course.

The live, 2-day class is recommended, as this environment provides the greatest opportunity for student participation, interaction, and discussion. Everblue’s LEED training course includes ALL study materials (course manual, credit memorization study sheets, practice questions by credit category, two simulated exams) and has a proven history of guiding students toward a first-time passing score. We offer the best introduction to LEED that you’ll find! This training is available nationwide. Estimated Cost: $399-$849

Step 2: Pay USGBC for Your LEED Green Associate Exam

Once you’ve completed training and studied to your heart’s content, you move toward the exam stage of the accreditation process. You will need to pay for your exam, submitting payment directly to the U.S. Green Building Council.

Action Item: Visit the USGBC Credentials page and click on the gray REGISTER FOR THE EXAM button.

Register for your LEED Exam on USGBC's website

You will be taken to a page that shows each of the LEED credentials that are available. The first exam shown is the core exam for LEED Green Associate. Underneath LEED Green Associate, you’ll see the rest of the designations and the small print will say “Combined core & specialty exam.” This means that the LEED Green Associate core exam is bundled in with the LEED AP specialty exam. We do not recommend this option due to the fact that an individual must pass both portions of the exam to earn his/her accreditation. If a candidate fails the LEED Green Associate portion, he/she will not earn that designation and will lose the opportunity to earn the LEED AP specialty designation at the same time.

Upon clicking the LEED Green Associate core exam option, you will see options to choose your preferred language, denote full-time student status, and indicate the need for special accommodations. You will then complete your payment information. Estimated Cost: $200 for USGBC Members, $100 for Full-Time Students, OR $250 for non-Members

Step 3: Schedule Your Exam Appointment with Your Local Prometric Testing Center

After you’ve paid for your LEED exam, you will receive an email from the USGBC with your Eligibility ID. The Eligibility ID is basically confirmation that you have paid for the exam and are approved to continue through the accreditation process.

The USGBC has contracted with Prometric to administer the LEED exam. Prometric is an internationally recognized testing organization with centers available in nearly every major city. The Prometric Testing Center is a computer lab for individuals needing to take a certification exam. Prometric offers a multitude of exams, so the individuals in one lab may all be taking different exams. This is a highly secure, third-party environment that ensures the unbiased success. Because the testing process is scheduled on a unique individual basis, candidates will be able to choose the specific date and time of their LEED exam.

Action Item: Visit the Prometric website and click the SCHEDULE MY TEST button.

Schedule your LEED exam on Prometric's website

You will then have the option to choose your preferred testing location. You will see a page about the aforementioned USGBC Eligibility ID. You will then be asked to agree or not agree with Prometric’s privacy policy. Finally, you will provide your Eligibility ID.

The next step in this process is to find your closest Prometric Testing Center. You can search by city or zip code. Prometric will then show you all the available testing slots for that location. You can choose the date and time of your appointment.

From there, I would recommend that you review our 10 Things to Know About Taking the LEED Exam post. In this post, we discuss Prometric’s security measures and what to bring/not bring to your testing appointment. Estimated Cost: $0 (already paid for in step 2)

Step 4: Acquire 15 Credential Maintenance Hours Every Two Years

LEED CMP logoNow that you are an accredited LEED Green Associate, you must abide by USGBC’s LEED Credential Maintenance Program requirements. The requirement is that you earn 15 hours of continuing education every two years. Of the 15 hours, 3 must be specific to LEED concepts. You cannot participate in the same activities for each renewal period.

There are a number of ways in which you can earn LEED credential maintenance, but the most convenient option is Everblue’s LEED CMP Green Associate package.

Action Item: Enroll in Everblue’s LEED Green Associate CMP Package

This package bundles together a compilation of professional development courses – all available online – to perfectly meet the LEED CMP requirement. The LEED Green Associate CMP package, in particular, has the 15 hours you need, including the 3 LEED-specific hours. We launch a new package every two years to help you acquire new and relevant information. Estimated Cost: $199-$299 depending on which package you choose

Step 5: Report Your LEED CMP Hours to USGBC

It’s one thing to participate in continuing education and another thing to notify your standards board that you completed it! At Everblue, we’re able to submit your LEED CMP hours on your behalf, further ensuring a convenient and hassle-free experience!

Action Item: Log into your USGBC Credentials account and follow the onscreen instructions.

You will have the opportunity review your LEED CE Activity History and ensure that you have met all the requirements. Estimated Cost: $85 renewal fee

In Conclusion: Earning a LEED Green Associate credential can be a valuable asset for your career and possibly your organization. It’s important to be aware of the process and financial commitment. Thankfully, you can earn your LEED credential in as little as 3-4 weeks and reap the benefits for years to come.

Get started today! Where? With Step 1: LEED Green Associate training!

Register now for LEED Green Associate Exam Prep

About Lesley Baulding

Lesley has been passionately advocating for and working with green building and renewable energy since 2009. She has experience with LEED certification, home energy auditing, blower door testing, solar energy, and more. She holds many certifications, including LEED Green Associate and NABCEP Certification. Her work has won numerous awards over the past decade.