Deadline Approaches on Free Deal to Enhance LEED AP Credentials

Deadline Approaches on Free Deal to Enhance LEED AP Credentials

Time is running out for LEED APs to take advantage of a limited opportunity to add a specialty to their green building credential for free.

The staggered enrollment windows close beginning in August. Specialties identify a LEED AP’s expertise within a specific segment of green building practice, and each directly aligns with a LEED rating system. The LEED AP with specialty is available for Building Design + Construction, Interior Design + Construction, and Operations + Maintenance, Neighborhood Development and Homes.  

Following the introduction of specialty designations to the LEED AP credential, all LEED APs who tested between 2001 and June 2009 were offered a two-year window of opportunity during which they may earn the new specialty credential without having to take the full exam -- and at no cost.

The LEED AP with specialty credentials allow green building professionals to demonstrate their proficiency in a specialized field within green building. 

Maintained through 30 hours of flexible continuing education every two years, the specialty credentials ensure that credential holders are keeping pace with the rapidly evolving body of knowledge around green building design, construction and operations. They allow professionals to grow their skills and show clients and employers that their expertise and sustainability knowledge is current and meaningful in today’s dynamic green building marketplace. 

Industry professionals who hold LEED AP with specialty credentials are frequently sought out in hiring announcements and requests for proposals. Additionally, all candidates for the LEED Fellow distinction, which honors the most accomplished green building practitioners in the field, must hold a LEED AP with specialty credential to be eligible for nomination. 

Alexa Stone, LEED AP O+M and Principal with Florida-based ecoPreserve, enrolled to add the Operations + Maintenance specialty to her credential last year. “My specialty credential confirms my experience in implementing upgrades and process innovations to improve the operations of existing buildings,” said Stone. “It also qualifies me to work with organizations that are not yet ready to move directly to LEED certification but do want to take strategic steps toward increased sustainability.” 

There are two enrollment pathways by which LEED APs may add a specialty. To add the LEED AP Operations + Maintenance, Building Design + Construction, or Interior Design + Construction specialties, LEED APs can enroll into prescriptive credential maintenance, which allows them to begin using the LEED AP with specialty title immediately. They will then complete 30 hours of prescriptive continuing education within their first two-year reporting period.

The second path to adding the specialty credential is through retesting. During their enrollment window, LEED APs can add the specialty by taking just the specialty portion of any one of the new LEED AP exams. 

LEED APs who do not add a specialty to their credential during this enrollment period will retain their listing as a LEED AP without specialty in the LEED Professional Directory. However, should they decide to become a LEED AP with specialty after the enrollment period closes, they will need to meet all eligibility requirements, pay applicable fees, and pass the full exam.

The Green Building Certification Institute’s (GBCI) credential maintenance program (CMP) is unique among other continuing education programs in that it offers eight flexible options for earning hours, ranging from working on LEED projects to reading case studies to taking professional development courses.  LEED Professionals can often earn hours while performing activities they are already doing for their jobs.

“I qualify for most of my continuing education hours from my involvement with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Chapter Committees, training and instruction I provide, the classes I took at Greenbuild and managing LEED certification on one of my projects, the Orange County Convention Center,” said Stone. LEED APs with specialty can earn up to a third of their CMP hours for their work on LEED projects alone. 

Current LEED APs looking to take advantage of the limited-time opportunity to enroll into the specialty credential will find relevant information on prescriptive CMP requirements and testing options in the new CMP Wizard, available at  

Maintaining LEED Professional Credentials is especially relevant in today’s economic climate. The practice of green building is in high demand, with more than one million square feet of construction space certifying to the LEED rating system every day. Earlier this month, President Obama introduced the Better Buildings Initiative, which provides incentives for green building. Green building demand is expected to rise greatly as building owners take advantage of the momentum afforded by the president’s new policy, which catalyzes private-sector investment through a series of incentives to upgrade offices, stores, schools and universities, hospitals and other commercial and municipal buildings.

“Green building is a critical element to a jobs creation program,” said GBCI President Peter Templeton. “Professionals who are knowledgeable about green building and the LEED process are today, more than ever, being sought after by employers, clients and project teams.”

Image CC licensed by Flickr user Payton Chung