LEED Accreditation Guide- Steps and Tips on Acheiving Your LEED Green Associate Accreditation

December 24, 2009

The following is a brief overview of the LEED personal accreditation process and a review of the LEED Core Concepts and Strategies online course that is offered through the USGBC website. It is a write-up for my Independent Study project in which I am pursuing my LEED Green Associate Accreditation.

Introduction to LEED and the U.S. Green Building Council-

The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) is a non-profit organization that promotes sustainable development and green building construction.  With roughly 15,000 members, the USGBC brings together professionals from every sector of the building industry which includes the private sector as well as state and federal agencies.  The goal of the USGBC is to promote green building practices to make green buildings available to everyone.  The USGBC offers courses and seminars on sustainable development and promotes the collective efforts of green building organizations by hosting conferences and meetings all across the country.

The USGBC is perhaps best known for their Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.  This program provides a system of standards and ratings for environmentally sustainable building projects.  The procedure that developers must go through is a completely transparent process in which points are given for different aspects of sustainability that are included in the project.  This rating process all counts towards a building’s LEED certification.  LEED certification has become the standard for green building projects and likely will be for years to come.

Levels of LEED Accreditation-

The process in which green building professionals can become LEED approved professionals, is called LEED accreditation.  LEED accreditation has three tiers of achievement, mirroring the LEED building certification rating system.  The first tier of accreditation, which I am applying for, is called “LEED Green Associate.”  The second tier is called “LEED Accredited Professional.”  LEED AP also has five separate branches of specialization which include building design and construction, homes, interior design and construction, neighborhood development, and operations and maintenance.  The third tier of accreditation is what is known as “LEED Accredited Professional Fellow.”  LEED Fellows are a class of leading LEED professionals that have years of green building practice under their belts and demonstrate great leadership in the field of sustainable development.  However, this tier is still under development.

Additional information can be found here- US Green Building Certification Institute

Becoming a LEED Green Associate-

For starters, everything you could possibly want to know about the LEED accreditation exam is available on the USGBC website.  You can find a general overview of the process here- LEED exam prep.  Furthermore, the handbooks for LEED accreditation on their website can provide you with all the answers to any questions you may have.  You can find them here- USGBC Handbooks and you can find the Green Associate handbook here- Green Associate Handbook.

The first step in becoming a LEED Accredited Professional is achieving your LEED Green Associate accreditation.  According to the USGBCI’s website, green associates should “demonstrate green building expertise in non-technical fields of practice, GBCI has created the LEED Green Associate credential, which denotes basic knowledge of green design, construction, and operations.”  Essentially, this Green Associate accreditation is an introductory accreditation towards further LEED pursuit.  In order to become a LEED Green Associate, the applicant must pass the LEED Green Associate examination that is administered by the USGBCI.  However, Green Associate candidates must meet a few eligibility requirements first.

Eligibility requirements-

Candidates must have experience in the form of:

  • EITHER documented involvement on a LEED-registered project
  • OR employment (or previous employment) in a sustainable field of work
  • OR engagement in (or completion of) an education program that addresses green building principles.  (USGBCI)

This means that candidates must be involved with an ongoing LEED construction project, or they must be employed in a field that relates to sustainable development or must have taken at least one course that addresses green building principles.  Personally, I chose the engagement in an education program that addresses green building principles to make myself eligible to take the Green Associate exam.  However, since I am a Geography and Environmental Studies double-major, I did not immediately meet the requirements of being enrolled in a program that addresses green building principles.  While a few of my classes here at Ohio Wesleyan have touched on green building techniques, I did not feel that it was enough to gain eligibility.  Regardless, even if it was enough to make me eligible, I did not feel as if  I would have been ready to take the LEED accreditation exam without further education on the subject.  Luckily for me, the USGBC offered courses that not only made me eligible to take the exam, but sufficiently prepared me for the exam as well.  These courses can be found by clicking on the USGBC’s LEED workshops or online courses link on the LEED exam prep homepage.  Among these courses are classes and seminars that can be taken from sources outside of the USGBC.  However, when I went to apply to take the courses in September, only a few courses were offered exclusively through the USGBC.  These core courses can be found by clicking on the “USGBC courses first” option on the drop down menu near the top of the page

Furthermore, you can filter your results by clicking on “format” on the left side of the page and choosing “online course” if you wish to look at online courses only.  When I went to apply for these courses in September, it only gave me the option to take the 200 level courses to gain eligibility.  Therefore, I signed up for the “LEED Core Concepts and Strategies” online course.  The course cost $150, but it is available for 60 days after your purchase, giving you plenty of time to go through the course multiples times to really get the material down.  Today they have a 100 level introductory course called Green Building Basics and LEED, but that course seems a bit too light to sufficiently prepare you for the LEED accreditation exam.  The next steps after taking the exam are signing up for the exam and taking the exam.  The USGBC website now provides links to study guides that it did not have in November.  The test can be taken at a computer testing center, much like how the GRE is taken.  The exam costs $200 to sign up and take, or $150 for students that attend an accredited university.  While exact percentages are not posted as to what qualifies for a passing score on the exam, the Green Associate handbook claims that anything above a 170 on the exam is a passing grade.  However, I could not find anywhere how many points are on the entire exam.

LEED Core Concepts and Strategies-

The LEED Core Concepts and Strategies course provided a great overview of the USGBC and LEED goals, strategies and rating system.  It also provided a massive amount of detail on the different aspects of green building practices and how they applied to the LEED rating system.  In addition, it used examples of green buildings in its description of these practices, making it easy to see the different applications of these green building practices in real life.  The course discusses the organization of the LEED rating system and the different areas that it addresses.

The course outlined the LEED rating system and discussed the importance of each category.  The LEED rating system is based on a scale offering 100 possible points with 10 extra points awarded for innovation in design and regional priority.  Buildings can  achieve one of four different levels of certification.

A Building can become LEED certified if it is awarded 40-49 points.  If a building is awarded 50-59 points, it is classified as LEED Silver certified.  If a building is awarded 60-79 points, it becomes LEED Gold certified.  A LEED Platinum certification is achieved by earning 80 or more points in the rating scale.  Points are distributed in multiple categories.  The distribution is as follows-

The first category that the course discusses is “sustainable sites.”  This includes the advantageous selection of a site in relation to other resources and populated areas.  Extra credits are awarded if the site that is selected re-uses land or existing buildings that were formerly unused.  Choosing a sustainable site is extremely important in building green.  Things that should be considered are the site’s access to mass public transportation, its ability to limit urban sprawl, its relationship and proximity to densely populated and traveled areas, its ability to maximize open space and minimizing its impacts on the surround natural environment.  Choosing a sustainable site can be crucial in maintaining a building’s relevancy for years to come as well.  This is why 26 total points are awarded for sustainable sites, as it is the first and one of the most vital steps in developing sustainable urban areas.

The next aspect of green buildings that the course talks about is through water efficiency.  Water efficiency points are awarded for buildings that effectively cut down on water usage throughout the building.  This includes the installation of low flow plumbing fixtures and regulating the amount of water that is used throughout the day.  In addition, credits are earned if a building can effectively recycle water and use it throughout the building.  In many cases, rainwater collectors are installed in buildings.  This rainwater can be used in many ways such as heating and cooling and in toilets or irrigation systems.  If a building uses this recycled water as opposed to potable water for systems that do not require the potable water, it improves the water efficiency greatly.

The largest aspect of the LEED rating system is the Energy and Atmosphere rating scale.  Making a building more energy efficient by using energystar approved appliances can go a long way in making the building more sustainable.  Energy monitors and regulators can also cut down on the electricity that is used in a building.  The course discusses the many ways in which passive wind, solar and geothermal energy can be used to cut down on heating and cooling costs, thus making the building more energy efficient.  Of course, renewable energy resources play a major role in green building development.  Points are awarded for on-site renewable energy resources that are included in the building’s development.  With Global Climate Change at the forefront of the environmental movement nowadays, the Energy and atmosphere aspect of the LEED rating system plays a major role in a building’s LEED certification.  In addition, the long term financial benefits of renewable energy make the green building process much more attractive to developers.

The next aspect of the LEED certification process that is addressed is the Materials and Resources rating scale.  Points are awarded if a building effectively uses recycled materials that are gathered locally or if a construction takes place within an already existing building.  Building materials can be recycled from all sorts of sites, such as other construction sites.  In many cases, construction site’s materials that are not used and would otherwise be thrown away can be used in the construction of a green building.  In addition, points are awarded if the building resources come from a local company in the region.  Since the materials travel a smaller distance, the carbon cost of shipping these materials to the site of the building is reduced.

The final aspect of the LEED rating system that the course addresses is the Indoor environmental quality rating scale.  The course mentions that indoor environmental quality is important not only for the health and well-being of the occupants, but it actually improves worker morale and productivity as well.  By maximizing natural sunlight and air, the environment that these workers work in is significantly impacted.  Points are awarded for minimizing the use of volatile organic compounds in the construction of the buildings.  In addition, points are awarded for efficient insulation that decreases the need for heating and cooling systems in the building.

The course not only outlines these different aspects of the LEED rating system in great detail, but it provides examples of these practices in real life.  These work very effectively as you can see the many different ways that these green building developers have made their building more environmentally friendly.  All together, the LEED rating system provides firm guidelines for the development of green buildings. In many ways, LEED acts as a goal that promotes ambition in green building achievement.  In addition, LEED accreditation provides a baseline for individuals who wish to learn more about sustainable development.  In a few years, LEED accreditation will become the industry standard and it will no longer be viewed as special.  In many ways, the development of the USGBC and LEED have contributed tremendously to the increased development of sustainable sites and green buildings.  The course mentions that as a result of this, LEED must constantly adapt.  In a few years, it could become much more difficult to achieve these levels of LEED certification.  LEED constantly re-setting the bar for green building development will only lead to greater strides in the future of green building development.

LEED Resources-

Step By Step Guide to LEED Accrediation

LEED Candidates Handbooks

LEED Green Associate Handbook

LEED Exam Prep

Course Catalog for LEED courses

USGBCI Website

USGBC Website

Different aspects of LEED

LEED practice exams

Breakfast of Biodiversity (11/4)

December 15, 2009

Bananas anyone?
rain forests cover only 7% of earth’s surface, yet account for 50% of Earth’s biodiversity.
I really enjoyed this book because it gave an in-depth look at something that is happening outside of US soil, but is for our benefit.
“peasants are forced to farm on slopes”
They are forced to inject the ground with gasoline in order to kill the remainder of the tree that still has its roots in the soil. And on top of being responsible for killing their homeland, the farmers are also forced to move from place to place in order to make a living.

It seems that unless there is a slow down in production or alternate growing techniques are not discovered, the US will be responsible for the destruction of rainforests in south america.

““How can you expect me to worry about deforestation when I must spend all my worry time on where I will find the next meal for my children and myself?”

“If some force were destroying the world’s museums, all thinking humans would be concerned. Such a force is, right now, destroying treasures that are perhaps even more precious and irreplaceable than the contents of the world’s museums.”- 139

The Unsettling of American (10/28)

December 15, 2009

-the only way to avoid this exploitation is to “succeed in life” 4-5
This statement really describes our nation as a whole at this current time and in the past as well.
The Native Americans and current farmers are in very similar situations…they were and are not seen as people that can succeed, so they are exploited.
This description is one that I do not like to use because it places all people in only two categories but unfortunately is they way that things currently are.
nurturers v. exploiters: society is divided into conquerors and victims; the nurturers care for the earth and aim for quality in the things they do and produce, while the exploiters seek to destroy them and are interested only in their corporations and increasing profit and production; the exploiters thus have no stake in the health of the land, and thus soil fertility declines”7-10
This is a very sad way of life because it cancels out a large number of hard working caring people.
Specialists- The US now has a specialist for everything imaginable. Specialists are looked at as the people to go to when there is a problem..but when will people know that they must look at themselves first?

“since the end of WWII there has been a rapid increase in mechanization, with many societal consequences; since this time, the market for minor products has vanished; diversified small local farms have gone under,small farms are abandoned and left to deteriorate”40
Machines, money, and germs now seem to be what the agriculture business is shaping into. Machines are supplied so that physical labor is not as needed. The companies that can supply or have the most money can control the greater population that is buying this food and with this comes faster production, chemicals, GERMS.
The “farms” of today take people out of the equation and make them believe that they do not need to be connected with what they are eating and how they were able to acquire it. Food is becoming a business and is one that is dangerous.

Veronica’s Digital Course Portfolio and Project Report

December 15, 2009

Final Materials

Reading Notes:

9/2: The Meadowlands and The Trouble With Wilderness

9/9: Desert Solitaire

9/16: Red

9/23: Nature Ch. 1-5 (Christian and I presented)

9/30: Nature Ch.6-9

10/21: How to be Idle

10/28: Unsettling of America

11/4: Breakfast for Biodiversity. I didn’t realize until now but it seems I did not write a post for this week. I was however in class, read the material and participated thoroughly in the class discussion. Sorry 😦

11/11: Lawn  People

Current Events:

8/1 Introduction: Hello my Name is

9/1: Problems with Pollutants

9/8: Taco Bell goes Green

9/16: A microenvironment in Delaware

9/23: Show and Tell

9/30: Music and Nature

10/13: Planning Commission Meeting

11/4: Rent-a-goat

11/11: Gimme Green

11/18: Not all Porches are Created Equal

Project Postings:

9/23:  Project Proposal

9/30: Project Update

Final Project Report : Roni’s Presentation Summary

How to be Idle (10/21)

December 15, 2009

Is it ok to be lazy?
Are there really that many people out there that practice this life of idleness?

I thought that the work by Hodgkinson was very well written and at times I found myself laughing out loud, mostly because I could relate to exactly what he was describing.
Waking up is hard to do- The alarm clock scenario was very funny and very familiar.
“Not only is early rising totally unnatural but I would argue also that lying in bed half-awake is positively beneficial to health and happiness”9
fast food industry-“the production of food has been industrialized and deskilled in the same way that the production of cloth was industrialized in the nineteenth century”23 This description which can be applied to anywhere in the US shows exactly why people are not excited to wake up and start their day. There is not a lot to look forward to.
“Idleness as a waste of time is a damaging notion put about by its spiritually vacant enemies” 33
It seems that some of the most creative people in the world are labeled as lazy or idle
-Why not take a break and have some “me time” in the middle of the day
-The Hangover- as described in the book, this is the time regardless of whether its from the night before or just an early morning, the hangover is inevitable.
“I have a vague notion that once upon a time, not so long ago, lunch was a meal to be enjoyed”58
with the production and expansion of fast food and short lunch hours, lunch has become a lost art form. There doesn’t seem to be very many places of people for that matter that allow for a sit down home made lunch.
As the day passes and the nap occurs and then tea you hit the “ramble” at this time everything seems to become a blur and you find yourself slowly walking and losing thought.
“The cocktail symbolises a well-being of the spirit”112
Fishing, Home, The Pub, Sex,
does it all just run together? At the end of this book I found myself wondering whether or not idleness is a good thing…..yes it does feel good to be lazy, but it doesn’t feel good to go through the same steps each and every day. This was a very interesting and in my opinion kind of thought provoking book.

Red (9/16)

December 15, 2009

“whether its over cows grazing on public lands, water rights, nuclear waste dumps in the desert, the creation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument of the designation of wilderness. This territory is not neutral”3
From the beginning is becomes clear that there is no in between for Terry Tempest Williams.
“There are moments when I long for the canopy and cover of a forest to hide in”5 If the destruction of natural areas continues this is going to be the feeling that a lot of people may suffer from and clearly already do.
-The desert is no place to become comfortable in though according to Williams with temps reaching well into the hundreds. It is a battle of public and private lands. The more and more public lands become…or private…the less we are going to be able experience in nature.
The description of the coyote and his life depending on the desert is a real connection with every other life form that is there as well.
-Very ironic that at the time of the mountain lion description there was one seen.
36-The end of the woman’s time to herself in the desert-this really demonstrated how powerful the wild can be.
The burying of the poems I thought was an attempt at mocking the locals and a lack of respect. And it raised the question..protect the environment by any means necessary.
“If the land is destroyed, it will become and permanently remain a memory”
Can preservation such as that done by clinton and gore really help? It is becoming a controlled area and one that can not be crossed into unless instructed.

I really feel that throughout the book Terry is really trying to show that everything, regardless of size or matter, has a meaning and a connection to the land.
“Is it possible to make aliving by simply watching light?”141
This is the question asked in ODE to slowness. The lights in the sky of these western lands are something that can only be appreciated by those who have actually seen it. Leaving the city and seeing these lights for the first time take some getting used to but after a time are something that you don’t want to be without.

Everything in this area is some how connected to us and should be left for others to see and appreciate as well while at the same time leaving everything as it was when you arrived.

Desert Solitaire (9/9)

December 15, 2009

In Abbeys work, he describes the notion that everyone has their own special place.
In his book he gives detailed descriptions on the desert and the area that he loves.
“Loveliest of shrubs the cliffrose now
Is hung with bloom along the bough…”28
It seems that the description of the weekly job is something that abbey would never want to change and really enjoys.49-51
I think that having a job such as Abbey describes would really take a special kind of person. They would have to love the land they were on and be able to handle all of the elements as well.

Abbey also discusses the current “views” on national parks
They are designed so that people can feel like they are in the true outdoors and away from civilization. This may work for some but doesn’t seem to be the right thing to do. It will eventually make every remote and wild place something of the past.
1. Ban cars in the parks
2. Place a moratorium on roads
3. Put park rangers to better use
Although these are great suggestions, would they every be possible? It seems that more and more parks are becoming adaptive to this way of tourism.

As tourism continues to grow it seems that there is no bright future for remote desert areas and all parks for that matter.

“The wilderness should be preserved for political reasons”163 but what is the real value to political leaders?

“Most of my wandering in the desert I’ve done alone”251
I personally think that in order to really appreciate and enjoy nature, one must go out on their own. Its the personal connections you make with wild animals, plants etc. that really shape your appreciation for nature which is why I think Abbey is so passionate about the desert.

But with this comes population growth and the more and more people that want to explore remote areas, the less remote it will become. This is a very difficult subject because it doesn’t seem that there is going to be a turn around any time soon.