LEED Certification

LEED AP Credential Phases Out & Becomes LEED AP Specialty

As a LEED AP, you may be wondering if it will be to your advantage to opt into the new LEED 2009 certification path, thereby becoming a LEED AP+ Specialty.

LEED AP Credential Phases Out & Becomes LEED AP Specialty

According to the Green Business Certification Institute, the LEED AP program has always been grounded in the pursuit of excellence and continuous improvement. To continue to meet these goals, GBCI developed a new, multi-faceted credentialing system that ensures that LEED professionals have the latest knowledge and understanding of green building practices and that they are recognized for distinction.

Changes are significant, such as incorporating new ASHRAE standards, regional credits, and better LEED Online software platform.

Who Should Become a LEED AP Specialty?

The LEED AP+ credential is meant for professionals currently implementing LEED or who may in the future, and who therefore require an in-depth knowledge of the core concepts, strategies and implementation process of the LEED rating system.

Architects, design professionals, green home builders, and legacy LEED APs are some examples of the types of people who may be interested in becoming a LEED AP+.

What’s New with LEED AP Specialty?

A difference between the current LEED APs and the new LEED AP+ is that you must indicate in which area of specialty the accreditation was earned. Currently, the areas of specialty are the following:

  • Commercial building design and construction (BD+C)
  • Commercial operations and maintenance (O+M)
  • Commercial interiors (ID+C)
  • Residential design and construction (Homes)
  • Neighborhood development (ND)

The changes to the exam system are reflective of the rapid advances in green building technology and practice in the marketplace.

Currently, you are a LEED AP. Under the new system, you will be known as a “Legacy” LEED AP. This distinction can never be taken away from you. You may still use the LEED AP title, but you will no longer appear in the active LEED Professional Directory as of June 2011, unless you gain active status.

As of now, you have two years to opt into the new system. Although retaking the exam is not required, you will need to sign the USGBC disciplinary policy and agree to credential maintenance. Credential maintenance includes participating in 30 hours of continuing education required every two years, with six hours specific to the LEED Rating System, credit categories, and/or LEED updates.

After completing these steps, you will get to use the new LEED AP+ designation and be listed in the active registry. You will not be listed in the active directory with a specialty designation like LEED AP BD+C. Retesting is only necessary to advance to a LEED AP+ specialty designation. The LEED AP+ exam will have two portions; in order to obtain the specialty designation, you will only have to take the specialty portion of the exam.

For the first two years, the credentialing maintenance fee is waived. After June 2011, the credential maintenance fee will be $50 every two years for continuing education.

So Why Opt into LEED v3?

Well, you do want to be revered as one of the best and most knowledgeable people in your industry, right?

The general public has finally caught on to the green building trend. They’re going to progressively need your expertise to help them accomplish new sustainable living goals. Not only will it look distinguished on your part for having gone the extra mile, but you will actually be able to provide more current information that will be relevant to your client’s needs.

The last LEED v2.2 exam will take place on June 30, 2009. If you did not make an appointment by March 31, 2009, you cannot take the LEED v2.2 exam now. The Green Associate courses are already being offered, so if you make an appointment now, you would be making an appointment to take the new exam.

Because it’s new, you may not know what to study for the specialty portion of the LEED AP+ exam. Everblue Training Institute will be providing LEED exam prep courses to help you out. 

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.