How to Pass the LEED AP Exam

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Published:
Cincinnati Business Courier, May 2009
DDI, Oct. 2009
Hospitality Design Magazine, Oct. 19, 2009

How to Pass the LEED AP Exam in Three (though not-so-easy) Steps

By Chuck Lohre, LEED AP

The buzz around building and being green is moving from informal water cooler chats, to serious discussions with occupants of corner offices across the country. And that definitely includes savvy retailers, who know green makes dollars and sense with customers, as well as the design and engineering consultants who advise them. The “green” bar once set by long-time sustainable-leaning retailers such as The Body Shop and REI is heading higher and moving into the mainstream while retailers such as Office Depot seek and achieve LEED gold, specifically for its Austin, Texas, store.  Then there’s Hannaford’s Bros. new Augusta, Maine, store, which recently received LEED Platinum – a first for the retail industry.

With that as a framework, professionals from architects and engineers to interior designers are naturally being asked if they are a LEED Accredited Professional (AP) with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

USGBC is the guiding body behind LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System ™, a third-party certification program and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, renovation and operation of high-performance green structures in the built environment.

A LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP) can be an invaluable part of a LEED project team due to their knowledge of green building technology, grasp of the intended goals of the system and understanding of the documentation and administration process for LEED certification. Taking a USGBC Technical Workshop is a key first step as these are the recognized standard for green building training and LEED rating system comprehension. And it will qualify you to take the test (professional experience in the sustainable industry or actual work on a LEED project are the other options). Of course others opt for intensive study groups, or one-on-one coaching led by LEED Accredited Professionals.

One: Get the Reference Guides

First purchase the Green Building and LEED Core Concepts Guide to prepare for the Green Associate exam. It is a general overview of sustainability, the facts about the movement and lays the foundation for the five categories: site, water, energy, materials and indoor environment. Second read the Reference Guide for your track (new construction, interiors or operations) — in its entirety — carefully. I also recommend adopting your own LEED Project and preparing the necessary documentation (templates, calculations and submittals).  It’s one way to immerse yourself in a real-world example.

Two: Get On-line

The Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) provides registration and administration of the LEED AP exam.  Their website includes a Candidate Handbook for prospective LEED APs as well as study materials and sample tests. You also want to become familiar with the USGBC’s web site. There are also a wealth of LEED summaries and forums available on-line. These abbreviated versions of the process will help you focus on the facts and reference standards required. The forums are online communities ready 24/7 to answer your queries.

Three: Get Ready

Start taking practice tests. The GreenExamPrep.com is the best and I recommend you invest in it. Review the areas you missed, and supplement your study in those areas.  You’ll find other practice tests on-line, as well. I would suggest taking those, too, until you start getting at least an 80 percent.

The exam is now administered in two separate parts: Green Associate (two hours) and LEED AP 9tow hours) for your chosen track. For more information contact the GBCI: www.gbci.org the testing and certification part of the USGBC.

About the author: Chuck Lohre, LEED AP is a 2009/2010 Board Member of the Cincinnati Regional Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council and Chair of the PR/Media Communications Committee.  He’s also the founder of Green Cincinnati, an organization devoted to sustainable design and eco-education advocacy.


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