Passing the LEED Exam
Last Thursday I took–and passed!–the LEED accreditation exam. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and it is a performance-based rating system for green buildings established by the U.S Green Building Council. It has come to be accepted as the benchmark for green building, and covers all aspects of a building, from materials, to energy, water and building operation. Becoming a LEED accredited professional (LEED AP) allows you to be a consultant on a LEED project, and it is also something you can put after your name to improve your credibility.
How LEED works
I studied for about a month to pass the exam, which consists of 80 questions covering all aspects of the rating system. The way LEED works is that the points are broken down into 5 topic areas: Sustainable Sites; Energy & Atmosphere; Water Efficiency; Materials and Resources; and Indoor Air Quality. A final category rewards efforts that don’t fall under the other topic areas. Within each category, points are awarded for achieving environmental performance. For instance, 1-10 points can be earned in the Energy & Atmosphere, depending on the energy-efficiency of the building. Each category has pre-requisites that must be earned, and depending on how many points the project is awarded a building can be rated anywhere from LEED certified to LEED platinum. (Learn more about how LEED works here)
I am very happy to have passed the test given my difficulties with focus. I took the LEED for Existing Buildings exam (LEED has different rating systems, including LEED for Neighborhood Development, LEED for New Construction, etc.) and I read through the entire 400 page study manual twice in order to gain a solid understanding of the credits and the synergies between them. On top of that, I had to study information on the USGBC web site in order to ensure I was familiar with the process of applying for LEED certification.
Taking the Exam
On the day of the exam, I rode my bike 10 miles to the testing site, which is located just across from the main airport serving Rhode Island. I had actually never ridden to the airport, but fortunately my GPS unit got me there with no problems. As I was taking the exam I had the feeling that I wouldn’t pass it; the questions were difficult, and some of them were poorly worded. However, when I finished the exam I found that I had passed, and it was definitely a great relief.
So what now? Well, this will be very useful for starting a company. In about 6 weeks I get a fancy plaque with my name on it, and I can now officially sign my name as Andy Posner, LEED AP. Not too shabby!