LEED Certification & Accreditation FAQs

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) was created by U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) as a voluntary, consensus-based, and quantifiable rating system for green building. LEED has become the most popular and widely recognized green building rating system in the world. When someone tells you that a project is LEED Certified, you know that a significant amount of sustainability practices went into its process, design, and construction. If a person gets LEED Accredited, that demonstrates that they are an expert on one or more LEED Green Building Rating Systems. Visit the LEED Exam Prep page to learn more about the available LEED credentials.
LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
LEED AP stands for LEED Accredited Professional. By passing a very complex series of exams, a LEED AP has demonstrated that he or she understands LEED's green building principles and concepts. By becoming a LEED AP, an individual is capable of managing a LEED project from start to finish and will also be able to get any LEED registered project an automatic 'bonus point' by simply being a part of the LEED project team. If you are interested in becoming a LEED AP, visit the LEED Exam Prep section to view our list of upcoming training seminars.
LEED can be applied to individuals and buildings. LEED Accreditation is for individuals while LEED Certification is for buildings.

LEED Accreditation is broken down into three separate tiers and is achieved by taking and ultimately passing the various LEED exams. Everyone must first start with LEED Green Associate and from there move on to become a LEED AP with Specialty. The current pass rate for the LEED exams is 34% making a prep course the best option for anyone serious about getting their accreditation.

LEED Certification is awarded to building projects that incorporate a significant amount of sustainability strategies. There is a laundry list of items that a project can do that would benefit the environment. Once a project team decides that they want to attempt LEED certification for their building project, they must follow numerous requirements to maintain that their project qualifies as a green building through the LEED certification process. There are 4 levels of LEED certification; Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum.
Unless you are a building, you cannot get LEED certified - you would be getting LEED Accredited. In order to become a LEED AP, you must pass both the LEED Green Associate and a specialized LEED Accredited Professional Exam (visit the LEED Exam Prep page to view all available AP+ designations). The LEED tests are administered through your local Prometric testing center and the application process is handled by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI). Prometric is a global testing organization that offers computer-based testing in thousands of locations.
There are seven primary categories tested on the LEED Green Associate Exam. Those are:

  • Synergistic Opportunities and LEED Application Process
  • Project Site Factors
  • Water Management
  • Project Systems and Energy Impacts
  • Acquisition, Installation, and Management of Project Materials
  • Stakeholder Involvement in Innovation
  • Project Surroundings and Public Outreach

Taking a LEED seminar is the best way to pass the LEED Green Associate Exam. Instructor-led seminars allow for the students to ask questions and understand all of the complex aspects about LEED and what it takes to become a LEED Green Associate.

There are also many study materials that would benefit the learning process - to view some of the best LEED Green Associate study tools available on the market, visit the GreenEDU Online Store. Also, we now offer LIVE webinars for those interested in receiving the training from the comfort of your own home or office.

The LEED exams involve two fees: one for an application and another for the exam itself. USGBC members receive a discount as explained in the following charts.

  • LEED Green Associate: $200 USGBC National Members; $250 Non-members
  • LEED AP with Specialty: $250 USGBC National Members; $350 Non-members
  • Combined Exam (GA + AP): $400 USGBC National Members; $550 Non-members
There are two entities involved with the LEED Accreditation process: USGBC and Prometric Testing Centers.

You will register and pay for the exam at USGBC.org. Then they will provide a link to the contracted testing company which is called Prometric. Prometric is a testing organization that handles most major national and global certification exams and they are the exclusive provider for USGBC's LEED examinations. There are Prometric test centers in almost every major city - the easiest way to determine your closest testing center is to visit maps.google.com and run a search for Prometric with your zip code.

The LEED Green Associate and LEED AP exams are given on an on-demand basis, meaning when you contact Prometric to schedule your exam, you book your exam date relative to when they have availability on one of their computers. While the scheduling process is extremely flexible, there is a strict limit of three (3) attempts per 1 year exam application period. The year starts from the date of your approved application. In the event that an application expires, candidates will need to wait 90 days prior to resubmitting their application again.
Each LEED exam is 2 hours long and is comprised of 100 multiple choice questions. It is scored on a scale of 125 to 200 with 170 being a passing grade.

The test items are written in such a way to encompass one or more of the following questions types:

Recognition Items: These items assess a candidate's ability to recall factual material that is presented in a similar context to the exam references.
Application Items: These items provide the candidate with a novel problem / scenario that the candidate can solve using familiar principles or procedures described in the exam references.
Analysis Items: These items assess a candidate's ability to break the problem down into its components to create a solution. The candidate must not only recognize the different elements of the problem, but must also evaluate the relationship or interactions of these elements.

The total required time for each exam is 2 hours plus a 10 minute tutorial and 10 minute satisfaction survey. If a candidate decides to take both a Green Associate Exam and AP+ Exam in the same sitting, the total time required is 4 hours and 20 minutes - unfortunately there is no break between the exams in this testing context.
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