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Thread: Planners LEED-AP accredited

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    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    Planners LEED-AP accredited

    My city is promoting green building, and in particular LEED certification. (Info at this page
    HTML code:
    http://www.usgbc.org/DisplayPage.aspx?CategoryID=19
    I'm thinking it might be useful for me to become a LEED Accedited Professional. This requires, among other things, taking an exam. Have any Cyburbians taken the exam? If so, what was your impressions/experience/evaluation of the exam?

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    I haven't taken the exam but I'm thinking about it. To pass the test you only need 50-55% right so it has to be hard. The company I work for hosts a full day workshop every year. Last year only 2 people passed the test( i'm not sure how many tried). It's expensive, so study up!

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    I have not, but we have several in our firm. They are in high demand, and it seems like a great resume builder to boot.

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    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    The PUD I'm working on give a bonus residential unit for LEEDS-certifieable projects. LEEDS certification is timely and costly so I'm using it as a guide; however, I still may have to become LEEDS myself too or have the building inspector do it (an option to think about)...

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    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    I wonder how hard it really is. The USGBC site has a "LEED Professional Accreditation Candidate Handbook" that has eight sample exam questions. I got five right without having read the LEED materials. I wonder whether the sample questions are representative of the actual test.

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    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Otis
    I wonder how hard it really is. The USGBC site has a "LEED Professional Accreditation Candidate Handbook" that has eight sample exam questions. I got five right without having read the LEED materials. I wonder whether the sample questions are representative of the actual test.

    I meant getting projects certified can be - but I guess if you as a municipal employee get certified yourself, then you can certify projects.

  7. #7
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    I found the test a bit difficult

    I am an architect with 5 years of experience who became a LEED AP a year ago. I actually found the test fairly hard, particularly in technical HVAC matters. (Obviously energy usage is a main theme and this is the purview of the mechanical engineer and not the architect.) I studied fairly intensively for about two weeks, memorizing the text of all LEED points including all AHRAE and other reference standards. Even with some experience in an A/E firm coordinating engineering systems, I still struggled as I mentioned above with the aspect of mechanical systems. I also struggled with the procedural requirements (who submits for LEED certification, what information is submitted, how are questions asked, etc.), but this was my own fault I somehow neglected to study this aspect. No one I know who has taken it has failed and most folks studied about as much as I did. Everyone I spoke to after the test also found it harder than anticipated.

    Beyond simply passing the exam, I found the material highly interesting and informative to study. It has turned into an interest of mine in terms of healthy energy-efficient buildings and sustainable planning. This is definitely a common ground area for planners and architects, though LEED seems to favor the localized building issues or issues of the site and immediately adjacent sites (with only a few points for things like sighting in a high density area, in an area served by transit, for building reuse, etc.) versus larger regional issues of where development ought to occur. Combining the LEED guidelines with smart growth or other policies would probably be the ideal approach. I would recommend that any planner take the LEED exam.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    Other than the LEED-NC rating system, what would one study? The Reference Guide?

    The exam system looks pretty cool -- when you leave the testing center you know whether you have passed. Unlike a certain planning certification program of which some are aware.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    Planners LEED-AP accredited

    Are any planners LEED-AP accredited or planning on taking the exam? I only saw two listed on the website. I have been thinking about taking it (have a few principals in the office who are very gung-ho about LEED in general).

    Thanks-

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Greenescapist's avatar
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    I'm taking the exam on Friday. I've studied a lot, but am still pretty nervous about it- the questions are very tricky. They are very gung-ho about LEED here as well. It's a requirement for Boston and Cambridge projects and we expect it to be more common, especially with university construction project.

    As a planner, I'm not sure how much influence I can have on the LEED process, but one of my colleagues in another office is her project's LEED consultant for a campus laboratory development and it sounds like a great project. So, I hope all my study time has been worth it.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I'll be taking it later this year.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  12. #12
    Cyburbian
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    Why are you taking the exam and what do you hope to accomplish with this accrediation?

    Hopefully it should have more meaning than just some initials or a bullet point on a resume

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Greenescapist's avatar
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    I'd like to be involved as a LEED consultant on projects. My firm does a lot of large mixed-use developments and campus plans where LEED requirements are becoming very common. I think I said in my other post that I have a colleague who is consulting on the LEED process for a large scale project.

    It's true, as planners, site selection and some of the transporation goals are really the only germane ones to our profession, but it will be nice to get the big picture on the other LEED credits. And yes, it will add to my resume and my firm is paying for it. Plus, they'll be able to respond to RFPs with my new qualification. You get one LEED point off the bat for working with a designated AP.

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    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    In my case, we have a sustainability team in-house and are doing LEED projects or ones incorporating LEED criteria. I have two I am heading up myself.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

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    Cyburbian Greenescapist's avatar
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    I took the exam today and passed. It was really hard though. You have to really read the LEED manual and memorize the standards. Hopefully, I get to use this as a planner. LEED is rolling out a neighborhood development program soon.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Planderella's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Greenescapist View post
    I took the exam today and passed. It was really hard though. You have to really read the LEED manual and memorize the standards. Hopefully, I get to use this as a planner. LEED is rolling out a neighborhood development program soon.
    Congrats! Was it worse than the AICP exam?
    "A witty woman is a treasure, a witty beauty is a power!"

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Greenescapist's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Planderella View post
    Congrats! Was it worse than the AICP exam?
    I haven't taken AICP yet, so I don't know. I'm going to try for the November test and get it all out the way this year while I'm with a firm that pays for it... I don't know how common this is.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian
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    Congrats on the exam

    Does USGBC mail you a LEED-AP certificate? Have you seen any people use LEED-AP credentials after thier name (like AICP, ASLA, RLA, AIA, etc.?) or is not usually the case?

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Greenescapist's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    Congrats on the exam

    Does USGBC mail you a LEED-AP certificate? Have you seen any people use LEED-AP credentials after thier name (like AICP, ASLA, RLA, AIA, etc.?) or is not usually the case?
    Yes, they do mail a certificate. You can get a LEED project point for being part of a design team. In order to prove your qualifications, you have to submit a copy of that.

    Some people in my firm do use LEED AP after their names, but only really on email signatures and such. Since it's huge around here now with development, clients like to see it. We got some work recently from a client that was going to hire an architectural firm to do their LEED materials, but when they saw my colleague had the accreditation, the gave the work to my firm instead (along with all the planning and engineering). My next challenge will be to try to administer an actual LEED project.... that will be pretty tough, I'm sure.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian graciela's avatar
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    I am planning to take the LEED exam this year along with the LARE and the AICP.

    I might tuck and Arborist exam in there too.

    I just want to get all of my tests out of the way!

  21. #21
    Cyburbian drjb's avatar
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    Different LEED Tests

    Does anyone know what the "real" difference is between the three different LEED tests?

    LEED New Constrcution, LEED Existing Buildings and LEED Commercial Interiors are the three different tests.

    I am planning on going into LEED consulting for homes (mostly remodels). Unfortunately, the LEED Homes test does not exist yet. Does anyone have any ideas as to which test would apply the best? Does it even matter?

    Thanks!

  22. #22
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by graciela View post
    I am planning to take the LEED exam this year along with the LARE and the AICP.

    I might tuck and Arborist exam in there too.

    I just want to get all of my tests out of the way!
    Out of curiosity, are you qualified to take all of those exams? I didn't know you could take all five sections of the LARE at once (usually takes a few months for each).

  23. #23
    Cyburbian Greenescapist's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by drjb View post
    Does anyone know what the "real" difference is between the three different LEED tests?

    LEED New Constrcution, LEED Existing Buildings and LEED Commercial Interiors are the three different tests.

    I am planning on going into LEED consulting for homes (mostly remodels). Unfortunately, the LEED Homes test does not exist yet. Does anyone have any ideas as to which test would apply the best? Does it even matter?

    Thanks!
    If you pass one LEED test, you'll be considered a LEED AP and could consult (and get a credit for a project) in any area. I think the LEED NC is the most general test, but it does focus on new construction and major renovations. Commercial Interiors is more about finishes- woods, carpets, paints, and lighting, etc- not major structural work. LEED existing buildings is for more minor renovations- here you'll do some indoor air quality and energy work, but I don't think it addresses systems replacement like you would if you did NC. If I were you, I'd take NC.

  24. #24
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    accreditation

    I just caught this thread and had to add my 2 cents. I am RLA, AICP & LEED A.P. and find all of them nothing more than initials added to the business card. I am interested in becoming a better landscape architect, a better NU planner and more knowledgeable on ways to be "green". The more I learn, the better I am at what I do, regardless of the initials. Yes, they are nice to have, especially the RLA moniker, since that actually comes with a license and a stamp. That one, I actually had to know something to pass it. The other two are lessons in memorization after I gained familiarity in the general subject. The AICP was a stupid exam that related to almost nothing that makes me a better planner. The LEED exam made me study all random facets of green architecture and site design. Will I use any of what I learned while studying for those 2 memory exams? A little.

    Good luck taking them. But are you taking them just for the initials? Or to be better at what you do? LEED A.P.'s are becoming a dime-a-dozen these days and all you need is one LEED A.P. somewhere in the project team to get that one tiny point. That person doesn't even have to be the team leader, could just be a cad monkey.

    I quit using ASLA, even though I am a member. You don't even have to be a licensed LA to use it! What's the point?? http://host.asla.org/governance/ldrshdbk/bylaws.htm

  25. #25
    Cyburbian
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    I am trying to follow in slimwhitman's shoes (well at least I would like to have the multiple credentials from both planning and landscape architecture). That will, of course, take time and a degree in LA. I work with landscape architects in my firm and landscape designers, and I agree, in most states you don't even need to be RLA licensed to practice landscape architecture (but you can't call yourself a landscape architect in most states either).

    It seems like you are not getting the most out of your certifications and licensures. I agree, most of them, such as AICP and LEED-AP, are nothing more than initials to slap on proposal resumes, in the hopes that it will give more credibility to your bid. Maybe you are a small fish in a big pond, or a bigger (but not the biggest) fish in a huge pond, so the importance of your certifications is not as important (especially with the LEED-AP example you described).

    Look at doctors. Many of them have MANY certifcations and licenses and memberships to various professional associations, that the general public could care less about.

    Slimwhitman, my advice is to discuss this with your boss. If you still are going nowhere, and your certification really bothers you that much, maybe its time to find a different job where your certifications and licensures are more appreciated. Personally, earning and maintianing these various designations, whether or not they are even used, is just part of the job itself.

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