LEED Certification Requirements Explained

Do you know the difference between LEED Certification and Accreditation? How about Rating Systems and Credits? If not, read on.

This page will introduce you to how the LEED certification process works.

To help you get started with LEED, this page will cover:

What is LEED?

LEED Certification For Buildings

LEED Certification For People

LEED Certification For Companies

LEED Certification For Products and Services

How LEED Certification Works

How LEED Accreditation Works

Who Should Get LEED Certified?

What are the Benefits of LEED Certification?


What is LEED?

LEED is an acronym that stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

LEED is the most popular, worldwide green building certification program.

LEED was developed by the US Green Building Council (USGBC). The USGBC is a non-profit, member-driven organization. Anyone can become involved and influence this consensus-based approach to building more sustainably.

LEED is the most widely adopted benchmark because it is both flexible and comprehensive. It is entirely optional. Buildings earn points referred to as credits and by accumulating them, a building can become LEED certified.

LEED is comprehensive because there is a wide menu of credits available to pursue. Studying the LEED Rating Systems, the formal name for the menu, is the single best way to learn nearly every aspect of green building. Each credit is a simple, practical aspect of sustainability.


LEED Certification for Buildings

LEED Certified BuildingLEED Certification refers to buildings that have been designed, built, and maintained using best practice strategies for green building and energy efficiency.

LEED Certification provides independent, third-party verification that a building, home, or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at achieving high performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water conservation, energy efficiency, material selection, and the quality of the indoor environment.

Though LEED Certification is a goal for buildings, this process would be hard to accomplish without the passionate work of accredited LEED professionals. The first step toward learning about LEED is to become a LEED Green Associate.

If you want to build a LEED building, you can find more information here. If you are looking for individual LEED certification, then continue reading.

LEED Certification for People

Corporate ProfessionalsLEED is not just for architects. Anyone and everyone can and should learn these green building principles.

LEED Accreditation refers to people who have demonstrated their understanding of green building principles by passing the professional exam administered by the USGBC.

LEED Accreditation is a personal endeavor for any professional who wants to understand green building, learn about the LEED Certification process, and increase their marketability. LEED Green Associates and LEED Accredited Professionals (AP) come from all different disciplines, such as architecture, construction, engineering, facility maintenance, urban planning, and interior design.

Everblue is the largest USGBC Educational Provider in the world. We are proud to have trained thousands of professionals from individuals to the largest corporations and government agencies. Our LEED training courses prepare individuals at all levels to pass the LEED exam.

Click Here for LEED Training

LEED Certification for Companies

Companies cannot become LEED Certified or Accredited. They can, however, become USGBC members with rights to display the logo, build or operate LEED buildings, and they may have LEED Accredited Professionals on staff.

LEED Certification for Products and Services

Products also cannot become LEED Certified, however, product and service providers can absolutely make their offerings easier for buildings to earn LEED points. Become a LEED Green Associate to learn more.


How LEED Certification Works

In order for a building project to earn a LEED Certification, it must meet certain criteria and goals within the following categories:

Location and Transportation - how close the project is to mass transit

Materials and Resources - use locally sourced, sustainable products

Water Efficiency - reduce potable water usage

Energy and Atmosphere - improve energy performance and indoor air quality

Sustainable Sites - utilize nearby natural resources and ecosystems that can naturally take part of the design, minimizing environmental pollution

Regional Priority Credits - addressing a particular concern that is specific to a location

Innovation - any idea not covered under the main LEED areas

Each of these credit categories contains a series of suggested opportunities to earn points. The building project earns each point when it properly uses and integrates these opportunities. The more points earned, the more sustainable the building is. Depending on the number of points received, the project can then earn certification on one of the following levels:

leed certification levels

The benefits of LEED Certification include:

Reduced energy and water usage

Reduced maintenance and operation costs

Reduced construction waste during the building process

Reduced liability

Increased indoor air quality

Increased employee performance, satisfaction, and retention

Promotes usage of recycled material

Attracts companies, employees, and tenants who value sustainability

The LEED rating and certification system is the industry's gold-standard for environmentally sustainable building and is recognized industry-wide by architects, engineers, developers, and other building professionals. A LEED accreditation, such as LEED Green Associate, is a highly sought-after credential by professionals in environmental sustainability roles, as well as law, real estate, and other areas.

At Everblue, we train you to become an accredited LEED professional!

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How LEED Accreditation Works

The LEED credentialing process has three tiers for individual certification.

LEED Certification CredentialsThe first tier is the LEED Green Associate. The Green Associate Exam is a required first step and covers the basics of the LEED Green Building Rating Systems.

The second tier is the LEED AP with Specialty. LEED AP with Specialty can be achieved through successful completion of a LEED specialty exam. There are five LEED AP specialties.

The third tier is LEED Fellow. LEED APs who have demonstrated exceptional achievement in key mastery elements related to technical knowledge and skill are eligible for this honor. They have made significant contributions in teaching, mentoring, or research with proven outcomes.

How to Earn a LEED Credential

To earn your LEED accreditation, you will follow these steps:

•  Step 1:  Prepare for the LEED Green Associate Exam

•  Step 2:  Pay USGBC for Your LEED Green Associate Exam

•  Step 3:  Schedule Your Exam Appointment with Prometric 

•  Step 4:  Participate in Continuing Education & Pay a Biennial Fee

After earning your LEED Green Associate credential, you may choose to either (a) stay at the LEED Green Associate level or (b) advance to a LEED AP with a Specialty.

Add sustainability and green building knowledge to your list of skills today!

Register Now for LEED Green Associate


Who Should Get LEED Certified?

Since LEED is a comprehensive rating system that analyzes the lifespan of the building, from planning and design to construction and operations, it essentially impacts all professionals involved with these phases.

Architects, engineers, construction managers, and contractors are commonly at the heart of all LEED building projects. But they're not the only ones who benefit from the LEED Accreditation process. Let's take a look at some of the other jobs that benefit from LEED...

  Commercial Cleaning Companies

  Pest Control

  Commissioning Agents

  Plumbing Contractors

  Construction Managers

  Product Manufacturers

  Environmental Engineers

  Real Estate Attorneys

  Interior Designers

  Structural Engineers

  Landscape Architects

  University Sustainability Directors

  Lighting Designers

  Urban Planners

So the next logical question is, will LEED get me a job?

The thing about employment is that requirements and preferences vary by employer, location, and job title. A green interior designer in New York City will likely have a different salary from a green interior designer in Tulsa, and there are a number of reasons for that. That being said, if your occupation falls within any of the sectors of design, construction, or operations of buildings, homes, or communities, you stand to benefit with a LEED credential.

Considering that LEED green building techniques are becoming standard practice, you should be aligning your resume and skill set with the knowledge and strategies that will get you viewed as a valuable prospect. In some respect, with city ordinances mandating LEED construction, it's basically becoming required that the professionals working on such projects have LEED knowledge.

Virtually anyone benefits from earning at least the LEED Green Associate credential. This is the most basic level of accreditation and is also a prerequisite to attaining higher levels of LEED accreditation. By itself, the LEED Green Associate credential provides a broad understanding of green principles and strategies. This is useful in any imaginable field of the future, from education to business to sales.

register for your leed accredited professional training


What are the Benefits of LEED Certification?

LEED is the highest tier of sustainability standards. Earning a LEED credential will provide you with an invaluable overview of what exactly green building and sustainable development means. No matter your experience level, everyone learns something. The insights gained and the overarching perspective attained by learning LEED will allow you to find your passion and specialize in a particular niche.


Individual Benefits

Accreditation provides a marketable asset to an employer, prospective employer, or client

Allows for a new career path, even if you've had no prior experience

Expand your marketing reach - You will be listed on USGBC website directory of LEED Professionals

You would be able to use your LEED credentials after your name on your resume, business card, LinkedIn profile, email signature, etc.

Receive recognition for involvement in the LEED certification process

Qualify for salary increases and promotions


Employer Benefits

Become eligible for projects on which owners are mandating the participation of a LEED professional 

Strengthen your qualifications when responding to RFPs requiring a LEED professional 

Encourage the growth of knowledge and understanding of the LEED certification process and keep up with the hottest industry

LEED provides incentives for project teams to include products with greater recycled content, rapidly renewable materials, and building products that reduce waste throughout their lifecycle.

LEED provides a clear pathway for environmental achievement. A building that is built, remodeled, or managed according to LEED standards is a clear expression of a company's commitment to the environment. 


Industry Benefits

Encourages and promotes a higher understanding of LEED worldwide

Supports and facilitates transformation in sustainable construction and design

LEED is the most comprehensive and difficult certification to attain in the built environment. Most projects, if they achieve LEED Platinum Certification, will well exceed most other building certification standards and codes.

LEED buildings are better for the environment; are energy- and water-efficient; have higher lease-up rates than conventional buildings in their markets; are healthier and safer for occupants; and are a physical demonstration of the values of the organizations that own and occupy them. 


LEED Certification Will Help You Make a Difference

Not only will you be in demand because of your specialized skills, you will be able to compete in an economy where LEED is quickly becoming the norm, rather than the exception, for professionals in the building industry. Add to that the recent changes to the LEED system that make it more attractive and applicable to anyone with an interest in sustainability, and you’ve got a perfect time to get accredited.

I'm ready to become a LEED Green Associate



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