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Thread: LEED accreditation

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    LEED accreditation

    Does anyone know of anyone that is LEED Acredited and how valuable is it to have such an acredidation in the planning field? Does it present any new opportunities or set yourself apart from others in future jobs?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    We have quite a few LEED accredited planners at our company and i think it truly depends on what you do in planning. I think it is very useful for planners specializing in site design/urban design in the private sector, but for those in the public side, not so much per say. So far, those planners in our office have yet to use their LEED skill set because no developers in the right mind would do a LEED project unless it is mandated by a municipality (and with the way the state is going, many LEED practices are being adopted as a part of implementation of AB 32) so really, every planner will soon be immersed in LEED practices.

    I thought long a hard about taking the LEED test and in the end decided against it, mainly because i really don't care much for how to be LEED in new construction and concern myself with paint emissions, HVAC systems, carpet, recycled materials in construction, etc. A few of us planner decided to wait and see what ends up with LEED ND before re-eximaining whether being LEED accredited is worth it for a day to day planner.
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  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Demand

    There also could be a demand for planners that are LEED accredited in the public and private sectors as consultants. Could be some good money to be made in that area. The Green Building Certification Institute is coming out with a LEED Accreditation Program next year that specializes in neighborhood development as well.

    http://www.gbci.org/DisplayPage.aspx?CMSPageID=84&

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by CPSURaf View post

    I thought long a hard about taking the LEED test and in the end decided against it, mainly because i really don't care much for how to be LEED in new construction and concern myself with paint emissions, HVAC systems, carpet, recycled materials in construction, etc. .
    WHIMP!!! The NC exam is nothing but memorization. It's not like it's a high school calculus or physics class that expects you to actually "think" hard about abstract issues. Granted, you have to know a TON to take the NC exam. I read through the entire 450 page reference manual twice and took copious notes (did this from January through March). I am spending the rest of the week doing brain dumps (similar to AICP) to just load up my brain with all the facts I need to know and writing it down as fast as I can on a sheet of paper (to practice for when I'm at the prometric testing site). I am taking the exam on the very LAST day available at the last available testing slot (I can't retake the 2008 exam anyway so I wanted to have as much time to get the exam right).

    Yes, the LEED-ND exam is probably easier, but they don't have that version for the 2008 exam. The 2009 is two part, and I would need proof of ND projects to take the second tecnical exam, after the LEED-GA exam to have the LEED-AP initials.

    Will it help me in terms of salary? I don't know. Right now I'm unemployed, and I just passed AICP this past November. I have put off the job seach so I could wrap up studying for this (I spent May wrapping up the flash portfolio). I think LEED can only be effective if its mandated by every government around the world and everything that is not LEED is demolished and rebuilt (that would be one of the few ways to measure its impact). LEED accreditation is nothing but a piece of paper to plaster your bathroom that says you know how to memorize a giant reference manual. I think a better exam would be an essay that demonstrates your understanding of LEED and how it works. However, more and more planners are taking the exam (probably because the economy sucks and it sets them apart from the pack) not because we are actually building much today, LEED or not.
    Last edited by nrschmid; 23 Jun 2009 at 1:21 PM.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
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  5. #5
    Cyburbian drjb's avatar
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    I Got Mine

    I am LEED accredited and have found it to be somewhat useful for my job. I work for a real estate economics and economic development consulting firm, so we don't have too much need for my expertise. However, from time to time, I get asked a question about LEED and how it affects what a particular developer is doing with their project.

    But regardless of the fact that I do not use it that often, it is still something to add to my credentials and it seems it will be become ever more present in the near future.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Uggh....

    I don't think I'd qualify to sit for the exams.....there isn't a LEED approved project within a ten day ride of this place.....
    "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."
    John Kenneth Galbraith

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by The One View post
    I don't think I'd qualify to sit for the exams.....there isn't a LEED approved project within a ten day ride of this place.....
    You could take the LEED Green Associate (LEED GA) exam, which just covers the certification process, CIRs, appeals process, etc. However, I think you only earn the LEED GA credentials. The second exam would be the technical one (new construction, neighborhood development, core and shell, commercial interiors, existing buildings). Legacy LEED APs (those who took 2008 or previous versions of the technical NC, EB, CI) will still keep their LEED AP designation, but will need to opt in to the current Version 3.0 plan by 2011, after which they (and everyone who passes both the 2009 LEED GA and technical exams who have opted in before that) will need to take the technical exam portion every 2 years.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
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  8. #8
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    WOW!

    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    You could take the LEED Green Associate (LEED GA) exam, which just covers the certification process, CIRs, appeals process, etc. However, I think you only earn the LEED GA credentials. The second exam would be the technical one (new construction, neighborhood development, core and shell, commercial interiors, existing buildings). Legacy LEED APs (those who took 2008 or previous versions of the technical NC, EB, CI) will still keep their LEED AP designation, but will need to opt in to the current Version 3.0 plan by 2011, after which they (and everyone who passes both the 2009 LEED GA and technical exams who have opted in before that) will need to take the technical exam portion every 2 years.
    Good grief

    I like the idea of the LEED GA, since it will at least show I'm interested in learning the system. If I start pushing builders to build a LEED approved structure here....I might see one before I retire.....maybe
    "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."
    John Kenneth Galbraith

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    Taking the new construction exam in exactly 10.5 hours

    All I can say is WOW. Even though this exam version is obsolete at the end of the day, hopefully some of this will apply to those of you preparing for the 2009 GA or specialized exams.

    1. There is a literally a cubic ton to learn and memorize. Give yourself plenty of time to read through the entire reference manual at least once (and take copious notes) so at least 2-3 months is a good idea if you are taking both the GA and specialized exams. Very few of us could probably get by without reading the reference manual, so it is imperative that you have an understanding of the main content.
    2. The Reference Manual does not cover everything. If you are taking just the GA exam, you will be expected to know the certification process, CIRs, appeals, etc. so most of that info is on the GBCI/LEED websites, although "some" of it is covered in the reference manual. I don't think there is a reference manual JUST for the GA exam, but who knows if that might change.
    3. Greenexamprep.com is a very good place to buy study guides (usually referred as just GEP). They provide 4-5 practice exams which are very similar in content to the actual exam (Pool E is probably the most difficult of the exams). Take the practice exams over and over, and carefully read the thorough explanations for each question. Wording is key to correctly answering the questions.

    They also provide flash cards for you to print out. I would focus on the reference standards, submittals (construction or design) and the requirements, and to a lesser degree the decision-makers.
    4. Do not use passtheleed exams (PTL). There are several spelling errors, not to mention several questions are just incorrect.
    5. Areforum.org is a tremendous resource. Right now, the LEED forum is basically for the NC exams (and to a lesser degree the CI exam). I imagine there will be more posts with the ND exam rolls out.
    6. Practice brain dumps. About 90 percent of test takers have said these come in very handy (spend a few days memorzing a few spreadsheets of standards, formulas, and equations, and practice writing these on a blank sheet of paper, then when you go through the computer tutorial portion at prometric before the test, start writing these down).
    7. Know your formulas and synergies (how one credit will help other credits).
    8. Always, always, always cover all of your bases (like AICP). Never assume that a question won't be on the exam. If you come to a stumbling block when studying, work out the problem, don't just pass it over. That could be the 1,2, or 3 questions that makes the difference between you receiving a 170 (passing score) or the 168 (the score most people earn if they fail).

    Again, this primarily applies to the new construction exam, but I'm pretty sure it won't change that much for the GA exam or specialized exams for the 2009 rollout. Several architects have been saying that the 2009 specialized exams, including neighborhood development, are going to be more complicated with more equations/math.

    Back to brain dumps.
    Last edited by nrschmid; 30 Jun 2009 at 7:32 AM.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

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  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    For what it's worth, and I haven't taken either the LEED exam or any other major green building certification. . . but most of my clients, architects I work with, and public funders all know that LEEP AP is purely a ton of memorization.

    I've been considering taking the 9 month national sustianable building advisor program http://www.nasbap.org/ which still only offered in 20 locations or so but is actually a certification in which you actively learn something as opposed to memorize a book. . . .and it was recommended to me by one of my more green architects as well as several other 'alumni' of the program.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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    Took the exam on the first try today and failed with a score of 169 (170 to pass). It's a bell curve, so there are several people who will likely fail by one or two points (there was a post on areforum.org that said more people failed with a 168 than a 169).

    I wasn't surprised by anything on the exam. I have had enough crap in the past 6-8 months (a slip and fall, physical therapy while juggling LEED-NC, no bonus/raise, 20% paycut, layoff, portfolio work, job search). The deadline for the older exam was today 6/30. If anything I am very angry and bitter for USGBC forcing me to take the 2008 LEED-NC exam today, when I cleary was not ready. I finally mastered my study schedule for this exam about a week ago, but I really didn't have that much time left on the clock so I raced to the end this past week. If I had another 2-3 weeks I am 200% sure I would easily break the 170 barrier.

    Yeah there is the LEED-GA exam, which I am skeptical because I'm not sure if it really means that much. As for now, I am wrapping up work on the flash portfolio this week and slowly getting back into my gym routine, which I neglected since I started AICP studying last August. If I decided to take an exam like this again, I will do it when I'm damn good and ready.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  12. #12
    Cyburbian rcgplanner's avatar
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    Sorry to hear that nrschmid! Here's to getting your life back!

  13. #13
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    purely a ton of memorization.
    Which is not necessarily a reliable indicator of one's skills.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian
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    I find it amazing how many architects, engineers, landscape architects swear by LEED, as if BMPs or even any other green rating system are an outright failure. When I said that passing the exam was nothing more than proving you could memorize a book, I received a verbal backlash saying I didn't know a damn about sustainability (who are they to judge) and that I was contributing to all the bad pollution and garbage in the world.

    Yes, there are a few scenarios on the exam that apply across many credits. True, USGBC receives input from anyone, but the final decision rests in the hands of their numerous committtess. More and more empahsis is placed on LEED as the diamond standard. This could easily create serious problems down the road if the wrong decision makers come on board. I wouldn't be surprised if there is an underground movement that will break through down the road that challenges many of LEEDs prinicples.

    I'm not so much anti-LEED as that it's a system with many flaws that doesn't produce substantial results without breaking the bank. Down the road I'll take the exam(s) again, but that will probably wait until I am working again. I don't see the point in registering for the LEED-GA exam, spending more money and time preparing for the exam, taking an exam with 20 more questions than the LEED, and not having the same prestige. Since only LEED-AP is needed on a project anyway, the only role I could possibly have is commissioning energy systems, but then that requires expererience as well.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

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    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    To be honest, I have been contemplating LEED for a while now. I don't really see a difference from the "selling" point of AICP. I think that if you want to have the skills or the knowledge, take the test. If you have those skills and knowledge already, and don't want the badge, don't take it.

    Truthfully, I personally have found no advantage to AICP or a Master's degree. But I think that you will be able to find cases for getting both. I think LEED is a great concept, and in a couple years will probably be more valuable (but harder to get..a la AICP) than it is now.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  16. #16
    Cyburbian kw5280's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CPSURaf View post
    no developers in the right mind would do a LEED project unless it is mandated by a municipality
    We have quite a few developers who are pursuing LEED buildings on their own. But I think they see the certification as a marketing tool rather than doing the right thing. Here in Colorado there is a lot of attention on alternative energy as a new economy so it makes sense that more people are aware of environmental issues and the developers want to capitalize on that by boasting what LEED certification their building acieved. Personally I feel that LEED is a buzzword since the majority of consumers don't fully understand the system. Especially when there are levels of achievement: silver, gold, platnium. The average consumer is just going to accept that a platnium building is better than a silver without knowing why. But the design firms that advertise their LEED services and recognize the number of people who are certified only reinforces this system as legitimate. I'm don't know too many people who received a salary bump or bonus for their certification.

    As a planner I think it's better to have a working knowledge of LEED so you can address a client's initial questions about the system and then refer them to a professional whether it's in your firm or another. Same goes for the public sector where people who know LEED exists bring up the topic at public meetings. One of the great things about planning is we need to have a solid knowledge about various topics.
    Last edited by kw5280; 02 Jul 2009 at 12:51 PM.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    I just think with the price of land out here as well as construction costs (although they have come down) is still high. That's why those buildings that are trying to obtain LEED certification here in the state of California as of this point are primarily municipal/state projects. There are some business that are doing it, but really no large scale developments that are moving forward are taking up the initiative.
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