Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is one of the most widely used rating and certification systems for green buildings in the world. Ross Group has numerous personnel on our team who have taken additional training in this area and hold LEED certifications. We sat down with Vice President of Operations Clint Black, who has been LEED certified since 2010, to discuss what LEED certification is and why it’s important for professionals in the construction industry to pursue it.
What is LEED Certification? Are there different types?
Having a LEED credential means a person is proficient in current sustainable design, construction, and operations standards. There are two primary LEED certifications that you can pursue: LEED Green Associate (GA) and LEED Accredited Professional (AP). The LEED GA exam measures general knowledge of green building practices and how to support others working on LEED projects. It’s an ideal program for people who are new to the industry and to green building.
The LEED AP exams measure knowledge about green building, a specific LEED rating system, and the certification process. It’s intended for individuals who are actively working on green building projects and projects involving LEED requirements. There are five different specialty areas that fall under the AP Certification.
Building Design and Construction (BD+C) – for professionals working on the design and construction phases of green buildings in the commercial, residential, education, and healthcare sectors.
Operations and Maintenance (O+M) – for professionals implementing sustainable features and improving environmental efficiency in existing buildings through operations and maintenance.
Interior Design and Construction (ID+C) – for professionals in the design, construction, and improvement of commercial interior spaces.
Neighborhood Development (ND) – for professionals in the planning, design, and development of walkable communities.
Homes – for professionals in the design and construction of environmentally efficient homes.
How do you get LEED Certified?
To get your LEED certification, you have to pass the exam for the certification you’ve selected and maintain a certain number of continuing education hours.
For LEED GA certification, the exam is a two-hour, multiple choice test. After passing the exam, you must earn 15 continuing education hours within a two-year period.
For LEED AP certification, the exam combines the multiple choice LEED GA test with a 100 question specialty test for the specific certification being pursued. After passing the exam, you must earn 30 continuing education hours within a two-year period.
What made you want to get your certification?
When we asked Clint why he decided to get his LEED certification, his answer was simple, “The government projects I was working on were LEED certified projects. In order to better familiarize myself with the requirements, getting the certification was the first step.” At the time he tested for certification in 2010, there was only one exam to get your LEED AP and no specialization was offered. For construction professionals doing work like we do at Ross Group, BD+C specialization is the typical choice. Clint has received enough additional training and education over the past 10 years that he easily meets requirements for this specialization.
What are some of the benefits you’ve seen from getting certified? For you personally? For your company?
“Personally, getting certified allowed me to learn more about the LEED system and how it functioned,” Clint says. Because most of the government projects Ross Group works on have sustainable requirements, the base knowledge gained through studying, preparing, and taking the certification exam gives our personnel the tools they need to have educated discussions with designers and project owners.
As far as benefits to the company you work for, being certified allows you to serve as the LEED AP on sustainable projects. The knowledge gained through the certification process allows submittals to be completed earlier in the project. This limits the cost impact of rework or buying LEED points, such as Green Power, if the project runs into difficulty achieve enough points for a required rating.
Would you recommend other people in the industry get their LEED certification? Why?
Clint says he would absolutely recommend all industry professionals get their LEED GA certification. In his opinion, the GA is a good certification to provide you with a base knowledge of sustainable building practices that can be used across a multitude of sustainability projects.
Getting the AP certification may not be necessary or worth the time for everyone in the industry. It is a more detailed and focused certification that is best suited for people working on a large number of sustainable projects or supervising a team that is designing and constructing a sustainable project.
Additionally, the monitoring and tracking of LEED requirements has become increasingly complex. This means that hiring a consultant is sometimes the best way to manage that portion of the work even if someone on the team has their LEED certification.
How do you see LEED changing or improving the industry as more people become aware and/or certified?
Over the years, Clint has been able to see how LEED has impacted the construction industry, “I think LEED has pushed the industry as a whole to be more environmentally conscious.” As technology has evolved with the goal of environmental efficiency, it has become more and more cost effective to build with sustainable products. An increasing number of projects use LEED or other sustainable guidelines during both the design and construction process. This has improved the industry’s approach to processes, materials, and long-term planning for green building, providing everyone with a cleaner and better environment.