How to Get LEED Certified

Posted On: 
Nov 23, 2016
How To Get LEED Certified

How do you get LEED certified? You don’t! Buildings are LEED certified while people are accredited. Newcomers to the LEED rating system often confuse the two terms. The Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) is a third-party organization that provides independent oversight of LEED professional credentialing and LEED certification programs related to green building and health and wellness in the built environment.

LEED Exam Requirements

Just like joining the Army, there are eligibility requirements to become a LEED professional. Previously, you needed to be at least 18 years old to sit for the LEED Green Associate Exam. That requirement has been eliminated making it easier for young professionals to obtain their credential. It is also recommended that you have exposure to LEED training and green building concepts. The LEED Green Associate exam fee is $200 for USGBC members, $100 for students, and $250 for non-members.

If you wish to pursue your LEED AP with Specialty, you will not be required to document your experience on a LEED certified project. However, you must have passed the LEED Green Associate exam to sit for the LEED AP with Specialty exam. The LEED GA exam is the first tier in the LEED credentialing process. Once again, it is highly recommended that you have worked on a LEED project, have taken a LEED Exam Prep course, or have volunteered on LEED related endeavors. The LEED Specialty only exam fee is $250 for members and $350 for non-members.

Both the LEED Green Associate Exam and LEED AP exam contain 100 questions. A passing score is 170 or higher on a scale of 125-200. Rescheduling and cancellations are allowed up to three days prior to an exam. Some fees may apply. The application process for the LEED exam is easy.

  1. Log into your site user account, then navigate to Credentials.
  2. Select your exam of choice.
  3. Complete the exam registration process.
  4. Schedule exam date and location on

LEED exam registration is valid for one year. In that year you are allotted three registrations per exam section. After this year expires, you must wait 90 days before registering again. You may also request an extension of the one year registration period for extenuating circumstances.

LEED Credential Benefits

A LEED professional credential, whether its LEED Green Associate or LEED AP, shows a clear commitment to your professional growth, while illustrating your value to LEED project teams and sustainability-minded organizations. If you wish to pursue the final tier of LEED credentialing, you may apply to become a LEED Fellow.

The LEED Fellow designates the most exceptional professionals in the green building industry, and it is the most significant designation awarded by GBCI. LEED Fellows are like the Navy Seals of green building. Instead of underwater demolitions, land warfare, and combat diving, they may specialize in Technical Proficiency, Education and Mentoring, Leadership, Commitment and Service, or Advocacy.

One of the most important resources for those wanting to take the LEED exam is the LEED Green Associate Candidate Handbook. The LEED Green Associate Candidate Handbook features current policies and procedures for the LEED v4 Green Associate professional exam. The handbook also includes test specifications, LEED exam references and LEED sample questions.

One of the most exciting things I learned from the LEED Green Associate Candidate Handbook is that The LEED Professional Exams have been approved by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for reimbursement. In accordance with the G.I. Bill, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has agreed to reimburse veterans, eligible dependents, and reservists for the cost, up to $2000, of any of the LEED Professional Exams administered by the GBCI since December 3, 2008.

If you don’t speak English which would be weird since you are reading this, exam translation is offered solely as an aid to non-native English speakers and is currently provided in French, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Arabic, and Chinese for the LEED Green Associate, LEED B+C and LEED O+M exams.

LEED Exam Preparation

The big question is are you ready to take the exam? Have you studied? Have you participated in a LEED Exam prep program? GreenCE offers a FREE LEED Exam Prep program to help you study for the LEED Green Associate Exam. Have you prepared yourself by reading a LEED Study Guide PDF? Have you taken LEED practice exams? You better bone up if you want to pass the exam!

What can you expect at the test center? We recommend that you arrive 30 minutes before the LEED exam. Candidates who arrive at the test site after their scheduled exam times will lose their seat. This doesn’t mean you get to take the exam standing up, it means they give you the boot! So show up early!

Candidates must provide valid, unexpired ID with a signature, a photograph that looks like the candidate, and an expiration date. No fake beards or last minute mohawks before your scheduled exam. Any candidate who engages in misconduct or does not comply with the testing center’s warnings to discontinue inappropriate behavior may be dismissed from the test site, have exam results invalidated, or be subject to other sanctions. I don’t know what the other sanctions they refer to are but it can’t be good. Mind your p’s and q’s buddy!

Once your LEED exam results have been processed, you can request your certificate. After obtaining your LEED credential you will have to maintain it. LEED Green Associates must earn 15 CE hours within 2 years of earning their credential. LEED APs must earn 30 CE hours within 2 years of earning their credential. LEED professionals can earn hours through these activities related to green building: education, project experience, authorship and volunteering.

Each LEED Professional is responsible for demonstrating full compliance with CMP guidelines. Unsupported, misstated, or fraudulent reporting of CE hours is a violation of GBCI’s Disciplinary and Exam Appeals Policy. Such reporting is cause for action by GBCI and may be grounds for disciplinary action, up to and including revocation of the GBCI credential. You do not want to be on the receiving end of a GBCI CMP audit, trust me, its worse than a root canal.

So, if you wish to distinguish your expertise, show that you’re a leader in the field, and be an active participant in the green building movement, go get LEED certified, I mean LEED accredited!

Do you plan on taking the LEED Exam? How do you plan to study to obtain your LEED credential?

For more information or to discuss the topic of this blog, please contact Brad Blank