LEED Certification, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is both a professional certification in sustainable building practices, and a grading scale on a structure’s environmental impact and sustainability (USGBC, 2008). A LEED certified professional is recognized as having completed the required course of curriculum in LEED and has successfully passed the LEED Certification exam. This allows a LEED certified professional to be able to work with colleagues of the construction industry in all aspects of a project to develop a LEED certified structure. Using LEED ensures a structure to be designed and built with the utmost attention to detail to assure that the structure is as environmentally friendly as possible. LEED Rating Systems exist for every area of the construction industry and range from the interior finishes of commercial buildings right down to resource consumption and health risks of residential structures (USGBC, 2008). The LEED certification exam covers the entirety of the LEED AP Handbook as well as several industry standard construction practices. The exam and handbook together will run almost $700 for a non- USGBC member to take and nearly $600 for members of both the USGBC and GBCI to take (GreenBuild, 2008). The exam is very rigorous and the study time required to take the exam is substantial. Most people take about 2 months of 20 a week study time to prepare for the exam (GBCI, 2008). Contrary to popular belief, becoming LEED Certified is not something that a person achieves, but it is the building that achieves it. The process of LEED certification has five different categories that insure that the build is a “green” building. There are five categories that are taken into account when building a LEED certified structure. They are sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality. This means that if all of these categories are met the building will be considered Green. It sounds easy, but is not that simple because there are different stages of being certified. The building is then, as the USGBC website says:
“LEED certification provides independent, third-party verification that a building project meets the highest green building and performance measures. All certified projects receive a LEED plaque, which is the nationally recognized symbol demonstrating that a building is environmentally responsible, profitable and a healthy place to live and work.” (GBCI, 2008).
The way that professionals achieve the ability to certify building is through attending LEED specific classes that are offered on the USGBC website. The USGBC’s website provides many different ways to become an accredited LEED professional. The first way is through online courses that are self-paced learning. The second way is through in house seminars. The online option offers three different classes to help increase an individual’s knowledge. The first course is the 100 level, awareness. This course is highly recommended for anyone who wants to take the more advanced 200 or 300 level courses. This course introduces a person to the principles of Green building and also serves as a base in which the person is able to build off of. The next Level of LEED certification is the 200 level, Understanding. In this level the person begins to take courses that deepen their knowledge of LEED and Green building. The first course on this level is the Essentials of LEED Professional Accreditation. This course was developed for people getting ready to take the LEED Accredited Professional exam. The next two just help the person understand Green building even more. They are LEED for Homes Program Review and LEED for General Contractors/Construction Managers. The third and final level, 300 Level: Application & Implementation offers several courses that offer courses that make the student apply their knowledge to real life situations and it...
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