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LEED Green Associate Playbook: How to register for the exam

August 10, 2017
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Looking for a career boost? Consider taking the LEED Green Associate exam.

The LEED Green Associate is a foundational credential signifying core competency in green building design, construction and operations. It’s ideal for those newer to sustainability, plus product manufacturers, students, real estate professionals and contractors.

With the upswing in green jobs, employers are looking to hire qualified staff fluent in today’s sustainability methodology and practices. Tens of thousands of professionals have earned their LEED Green Associate credential as a way to demonstrate their green building expertise.

Exam rescheduling and cancellations are allowed up to three days before your scheduled date, but some fees may apply.

If you’re already studying for the test, check out a list of test prep resources recommended by USGBC staff.

Register for the LEED Green Associate exam

LEED Link: LEED AP study plans

August 8, 2017
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Once you've made the commitment to earn your LEED AP credential, then it's time to study for the exam. Where do you start? USGBC wants to help you become a LEED professional and leader in the green building community, so we've made it easy by putting together four-week study plans for three types of credentials.

Each plan contains step-by-step guidance to help you organize your study time, as well as free resources. You will also need to purchase the reference guide for your chosen specialization. For a sneak peek, take a look at the BD+C syllabus.

To get started, log in to your usgbc.org account, or create a free account

View more LEED exam prep resources on Education @USGBC

Life as a LEED volunteer: Advancing professional expertise

August 3, 2017
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The application period for new LEED committee members is open through August 31, 2017. In honor of that, USGBC is bringing you stories and perspectives from members of the various LEED committees.

Marcelo Gregório is an Acoustic and Theatre Consultant with Arup and joined the Indoor Environmental Quality Technical Advisory Group (EQ TAG) in 2017.

Why did you apply to be a volunteer?

I have always had a big interest in environmental subjects. It’s rewarding to see that by helping USGBC come up with new sustainable strategies or by reviewing their existing ones, we can have a big impact on the building industry.

On average, how much time do you dedicate to LEED Committee work per week or month?

I do other activities related to sustainability, but just in regard to the LEED committee, I spend about 4–6 hours per month.

How does your service on a LEED Committee intersect with your professional work?

I work in New York as an acoustics consultant at Arup, a global multidisciplinary engineering firm. Arup provides me with the opportunity to work on a wide range of unique and challenging projects that advance my professional expertise and help me collaborate with the EQ TAG. At the end of the day, we are working on projects that are applying for LEED, so being able to create our design to comply with LEED standards makes it interesting and fun.

What are the most important changes and the future that you see for the EQ TAG?

I see the future of the EQ TAG giving more emphasis on the health and comfort of the users, improving their requirements and standards on subjects like acoustics. Talking about the perception of acoustics, I believe that in general, users can experience an architectural space using three sensory organs: seeing things, touching and walking towards objects or spaces, and listening.

The issue with this later one is that we cannot isolate ourselves from the acoustic environment in which we are immersed, and when acoustics from a space is poor, this negatively impacts our experience of it and our health. There is plenty of research that proves that a good acoustics design brings economic value and health benefits to the users of the space...I want to make people more aware of how acoustics can benefit us daily.

Interested in becoming a LEED Committee volunteer? Start by taking a look at the current volunteer opportunities and learn more about LEED Committees.

Apply to be a Committee Volunteer

Quiz: What's the difference between LEED credits, prerequisites and points?

August 2, 2017
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Credits, prerequisites and points—achieving LEED certification involves a lot of components. But it's not as complicated as it sounds. These elements all work together to help you certify your project. 

Do you know the difference between points, credits, and prerequisites? Take our brief quiz to see how your LEED certification knowledge stacks up against that of other green professionals:

In a recent series, we broke down the prerequisites, credits and points for our different rating systems and project types, with easy-to-follow tables.

Learn about LEED BD+C points

LEED Green Associate Playbook: USGBC events to help you maintain your credential

July 27, 2017
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LEED Green Associates are specialists in today’s sustainable building standards and marketplace. They are knowledgeable about emerging technologies, current industry research and environmental trends.

Like all LEED professionals, LEED Green Associates must maintain their credentials by earning continuing education (CE) hours. Three of these 15 CE hours are required to be LEED-specific, and all must be earned within two years of obtaining the credential. CE hours can be earned in a variety of ways, including project participation, online courses on the Education @USGBC platform and attendance at CE-approved events from GBCI.

USGBC regularly hosts regional conferences, seminars and workshops that are GBCI CE-approved. Mark your calendar with these upcoming events taking place across the U.S. 

Greenbuild International Conference and Expo

Location: Boston, Massachusetts; Mumbai, India; and Shanghai, China
Dates: Fall 2017

Registration is now open in China, India and Boston for Greenbuild 2017, the flagship event for green building professionals.

At Greenbuild, hear inspiring keynotes from business and environmental leaders about the future of green building. Networking opportunities are abound on the expo floor and in sessions, where you can exchange strategies and solutions with architects, engineers, developers, interior designers and others.

Explore the 2017 China and India session programs, and learn more about continuing education opportunities at Greenbuild in Boston. Register today to learn about the latest research, trends and tools to take your green building project to the next level.

Lunch and LEED: Risks and Rewards of Energy Storage

Location: Tempe, Arizona
Date: Wed., Aug. 2

Earn 1 LEED-specific CE hour and 1 AIA learning unit (LU) at this Lunch and LEED seminar by USGBC Arizona about energy storage. In this session, Sharon Bonesteel of the Salt River Project will cover the different types of energy systems, focusing on batteries and other innovative tactics.

She will discuss how energy storage can help commercial, industrial and municipal buildings achieve LEED certification. For more information about this event, contact Chad Billings.

Register for the Lunch and LEED seminar.

LEED v4 BD+C Workshop

Location: Greenwood, Colorado
Fri., Sept. 15

This full-day LEED Building Design and Construction workshop is designed to prepare industry professionals to transition from LEED v2009 to LEED v4, the newest version of LEED. Attendees can earn 8 LEED-specific CE hours and 8 AIA LUs at this USGBC Colorado event.

Led by LEED Fellow and faculty member Brian Dunbar, this workshop will cover LEED topics, including analyses required for LEED credits, integrative strategies and project management. The session also will include interactive breakout sessions.

Early bird pricing ends Aug. 18, and group pricing also is available. Contact Kathryn Lovda for more information.

Register for the LEED workshop.

LEED Breakfast Club

Location: Des Moines, Iowa
Dates: Sept. 19; also held monthly

USGBC Iowa hosts monthly morning presentations where attendees can earn CE hours while enjoying breakfast with other LEED professionals. At the Sept. 19 event, learn about resilient urban transit systems in this one-hour course by the Island Press Urban Resilience Project.

Join USGBC Iowa to receive the member rate for this workshop.

Register for the LEED Breakfast Club.

Explore more USGBC events

What you need to know to achieve LEED certification in 2017

July 24, 2017
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Are you planning to complete a LEED review this year, before Greenbuild? If so, be sure to submit for review on time. See below for application deadlines based on typical review timelines.

The following deadlines apply to all commercial rating systems (not including LEED Volume). These timelines also assume that no appeal review is necessary. Appeal reviews typically take 20–25 business days; expedited appeal reviews take about 10 business days.  

Regardless of when a deadline occurs, all project teams hoping to achieve review milestones by a certain date should inform GBCI of their specific needs. Reviewers will make every effort to accommodate reasonable requests, subject to capacity.

Deadlines to submit for review and achieve certification in 2017

Table 1. Regular Review Timeline

Application Type and Review Phase Application submitted, payment cleared Target Return Date
Certification before Greenbuild (November 8) Standard Preliminary Review July 31 (9:00 am EST) September 1 (approx.)
Standard Final Review** October 2 (9:00 am EST) November 3 (approx.)
Construction Preliminary Review July 31 (9:00 am EST) September 1 (approx.)
Construction Final Review** October 2 (9:00 am EST) November 3 (approx.)
Certification before the end of 2017* Standard Preliminary Review September 14 (9:00 am EST) October 19 (approx)
Standard Final Review** November 16 (9:00 am EST) December 22 (approx.)
Construction Preliminary Review September 14 (9:00 am EST) October 19 (approx)
Construction Final Review** November 16 (9:00 am EST) December 22 (approx.)

Table 2. Expedited Review Timeline

If you're seeking an expedited review, please see the table below and note the surcharge for the LEED Registration and Certification Fees. The expedite surcharge is in addition to the regular certification fee. The availability of expedited review timelines is based on GBCI capacity. If you are requesting an expedited review, contact GBCI at least 10 business days prior to submitting your application.

Application Type and Review Phase Application submitted, payment cleared Target Return Date
Certification before Greenbuild (November 8) Expedited Standard Preliminary Review September 26 (approx.) October 11 (approx.)
Expedited Standard Final Review** October 19 (9:00 am EST) November 3 (approx.)
Expedited Construction Preliminary Review September 26 (approx.) October 11 (approx.)
Expedited Construction Final Review** October 19 (9:00 am EST) November 3 (approx.)
Certification before the end of 2017* Expedited Standard Preliminary Review November 10 (9:00 am EST) November 29 (approx.)
Expedited Standard Final Review** December 7 (9:00 am EST) December 22 (approx.)
Expedited Construction Preliminary Review November 10 (9:00 am EST) November 29 (approx.)
Expedited Construction Final Review** December 7 (9:00 am EST) December 22 (approx.)

* These timelines include a two-business-day buffer for the Thanksgiving holiday (USGBC is closed). Additionally, USGBC is closed from Dec. 25, 2017 through Jan. 1, 2018.

** Regular review timelines include 20 business days after the preliminary review is returned for project teams to prepare clarifications and submit for final review. Expedited review timelines assume five business days for the same.

Access your project through LEED Online

LEED Link: LEED committees

July 18, 2017
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Are you an innovative sustainability professional or building expert? Would you like to become more involved in LEED by volunteering that expertise?

LEED committee volunteers perform research and collaborate with industry professionals and subject matter experts to help develop, implement and revise the LEED rating systems. They are architects, planners, engineers, manufacturers, developers, educators, scientists and policy professionals who share a common goal of advancing sustainable market transformation.

Eight committees and advisory groups are currently accepting applications.

Learn more and apply to join a LEED committee

LEED for Neighborhood Development: Pathways to certification

July 18, 2017
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If you have questions about the different options within LEED for Neighborhood Development, take a look at our helpful table below. A project can enter the LEED ND certification process at any point, from the early conceptual phase up until three years after project completion.

When designing a road map for your project, consider the current development status, timeline and how the different review options will align with your project goals. To capitalize on integrating strategies for early site assessments or community outreach efforts, incorporate LEED into the development process as early as possible. 

Take a look at our pathways breakdown:

LEED ND process

Get started with LEED ND

LEED v4 stories: Kashiwa-no-ha Smart City

July 17, 2017
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The LEED v4 Stories article series features the people the behind diverse LEED v4 projects. Project team members and project owners tell of their experiences—both the wins and the challenges.

Kashiwa-no-ha Smart City is home to the University of Tokyo, Chiba University and national research institution campuses. As part of the Kashiwa-no-ha International Campus Town Initiative, the goal is to build a city on this foundation that is integrated with the environment, promotes long and healthy lives and cultivates industrial innovation.

This process has a unique synergy with the goals of LEED v4 for Neighborhood Development and used LEED ND as a framework to guide the decision-making processes and set qualitative and quantitative goals for implementation. The design team at ZGF Architects LLP included Charles Kelley (AIA, principal), Yoshi Watanabe (AIA, associate partner) and Ashleigh Fischer (designer).

We spoke to the project’s sustainability engineer Amy Jarvis, an associate at ZGF Architects LLP, who also holds many credentials, including PE, LEED AP BD+C, LEED AP ND and LEED AP Homes, about her experience achieving LEED:

What were the biggest differences you experienced in LEED v4? 

The biggest difference is that there are separate Plan and Built certifications. LEED v4 ND is also updated to more current standards (e.g., ASHRAE 2010 in lieu of ASHRAE 2007), which better aligns with current industry thinking, codes and standards. 

Kashiwa-no-ha Smart City

What is the coolest credit in LEED v4 ND? 

Neighborhood Pattern and Design (NPD) Credit: Community Outreach and Involvement. If the community is not involved and engaged with the collective vision for the district, then the district will not meet its full potential. In particular, our community outreach involved a series of workshops and ongoing programs with a variety of stakeholder groups including residents, employees and property owners. 

How did the credits and prerequisites and credits influence the project design?

There were a number of particularly influential credits. Walkable Streets required the development of guidelines for sidewalk width, building set-back and active ground floor use, which is essential to a vibrant community. Compact Development led to increased emphasis on high floor-area ratio (FAR) and density, which complements activities on the ground floor. Connected and Open Community increased the emphasis on intersection density, which reinforces connection nodes and activity at the ground floor. Tree-lined and Shaded Streetscapes provided specific and quantified requirements for street tree placement.

Because water is not a scarce local resource (so residents are not naturally accustomed to having to save water), specific requirements around plumbing fixtures and water reuse were important for the Indoor Water Use Reduction credit. And with the site’s more than 60 inches of rain per year, the team developed guidelines around stormwater management to encourage the use of water features to activate spaces for Rainwater Management.

Kashiwa-no-ha Smart City

Any tips for other project teams?

LEED ND works as a strong, comprehensive guideline for good urban design and can help guide the decision-making process if leveraged appropriately. As the sharing economy continues to develop, building codes increase energy and water use regulations, and people move to more urban areas, LEED ND is essential for ensuring vibrant, active and sustainable communities.  

LEED has a great global following, but some people still see it as a U.S. standard. What would you say to people who want to use LEED outside of the States?

LEED can be used in an international context. Although some LEED credits are written around U.S.-based standards and ideas, our team found it helpful to focus on the credit intent rather than the specific requirements, in certain instances.

As part of our work in Japan, we learned many things that can be translated back to the U.S., and we brought U.S.-style urban development and smart city placemaking to Japan. This exchange of ideas supported the project’s LEED ND goals.

Kashiwa-no-ha Smart City

How are you preparing for LEED ND: Built certification?

To use and manage the neighborhood facilities effectively, a community-based organization called Urban Design Center Kashiwa-no-ha (UDCK) was established. Its function is to promote community engagement, research innovative problem-solving ideas and coordinate maintenance. In addition to hosting and offering regular events and salons to strengthen and build the community, UDCK is also responsible for the stewardship of the collective vision for this district. This includes acting as a conduit to connect key stakeholders as well as overseeing the development of the LEED ND Site and Building Performance Guidelines as buildings are designed, built and operated.  

Learn more about LEED ND

LEED addenda update: July 2017

July 14, 2017
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The July 2017 quarterly LEED rating system and reference guide addenda is now available.

To view the changes:


Six new interpretations were published (LI 10460–10465).


Corrections were released for the LEED v4 for Building Design and Construction and LEED v4 for Interior Design and Construction reference guides to clarify guidance on Structure and Enclosure materials in all Materials and Resources Building Product Disclosure and Optimization credits. 

Corrections were released for the LEED v4 for Homes Design and Construction reference guide to reflect and align with recently updated Energy Star for Homes requirements.

Corrections were released for the LEED v4 for Building Design and Construction and LEED v4 for Building Operations and Maintenance reference guides to clarify guidance for group and campus projects. 

To see all corrections, download the reference guide tables.

Pilot credit updates

The following pilot credits were added to the pilot credit library this quarter: 

Courses to watch on Education@USGBC

View courses to grow your LEED, green building and sustainability knowledge.

Visit the addenda database


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