Building Certification Training Expectations

Posted on February 20th, 2011 by


It seems like we’ve been beat up, stomped on and then kicked when we’re down.  At the beginning of 2011, unemployment still hovers at 9.8 percent and we need to find jobs for an estimated 30 million people.  Life is rough.

Fortunately for those of us in the ever-expanding “green” fields, the green-collar economy sits at the nexus of the future – the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit.  The green economy creates jobs, benefits the environment and saves (and makes) money. These jobs require skilled labor, innovative design and local experts.  They are jobs that absolutely cannot be outsourced.

The green building industry in specific takes up a big chunk of the larger green economy and accounts for approximately 13 percent of the US GDP.  It is projected to double in size from 2009 levels and become a $96-140 billion industry by 2013.  Experts predict that it will create 7.9 million US jobs.[1]


Certainly, we all want to live, work and play in buildings that save us money on utility bills, are not harmful to our health and do not destroy the environment. The green building movement wants to design buildings of maximum efficiency and minimal health and environmental harm.  Building certifications (like LEED), conducted by trained professionals (like a LEED AP) working for non-biased organizations (like USGBC), ensure that these goals are realized.


Receiving training in building certification is a smart business decision because it sets you apart from the crowd and gets you ahead of the green building curve.  Green building is clearly the way of the future as more and more clients seek certified buildings.  High-performing buildings require high-performing professionals. You can expect building certification training to set you apart from the crowd and put you ahead of the curve.  As the green building industry continues to expand, certification is likely to become an irreplaceable, even mandatory, membership card.

By completing building certification training, you become eligible to work on projects in which the client is demanding a LEED professional.  You also:

  • Become more marketable to an employers and clients
  • Open a new career path, even if you’ve had no prior experience
  • Become listed on GBCI website directory of LEED Professionals
  • Can call yourself a LEED Accredited Professional
  • Receive recognition for involvement in the LEED certification process


The maze of building certification programs and eco-labels seems impossible to wade through at times.  Let’s take a look at the details of the LEED Building Certification Program.

The United States Green Building Council (USGBC), and the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification program, controls the market in green building certification. LEED certifies and determines the “greenness” of buildings.  LEED Exams qualify professionals to design, construct, operate or evaluate buildings using LEED green buildings principles.  There are both LEED Professionals and LEED Certified Buildings, which gets confusing.

LEED Buildings are certified as “green buildings” based on a rating system that assigns points to buildings based their fulfillment of items on the menu.  Building designers, contractors and facilities managers may pick and choose from this points menu based on their building’s needs.  Buildings are designated as LEED Silver, LEED Gold or LEED Platinum.

LEED also certifies people.  To design, build and evaluate LEED certified buildings, it is necessary to obtain LEED certification as either a LEED Green Associate or a LEED Accredited Professional.


Training courses deepen your understanding of LEED principles, increase your chances of passing the exam the first time and give you more credibility as a professional.  You may select as many courses as you like from the all-you-can-learn buffet of training programs.  Most building certification training programs follow the same general format as the programs offered by the training institute at

Step 1: LEED Green Associate training is the place to start if you are brand new to LEED.  In order to become a LEED Accredited Professional it is necessary to complete the LEED Green Associate Exam first.  This 2-day class is valuable to anyone interested in green building design, construction, maintenance or education.  The Green Associate exam is 2 hours long, consists of 100 questions and costs $250.

Step 2: LEED Accredited Professional training courses are designed to cater to each of theses five LEED AP subject areas.

  • LEED AP Building Design and Construction (New Construction)
  • LEED AP Existing Buildings Operations & Maintenance
  • LEED AP Interior Design and Construction
  • LEED Homes
  • LEED Neighborhood Development

LEED AP is especially valuable for developers, contractors, architects, lawyers, builders, engineers, product representatives, real estate brokers and anyone interested in understanding green building principles.  It teaches the requirements and calculations that LEED certified buildings are evaluated upon including:

  • Sustainable sites
  • Water efficiency
  • Energy and atmosphere
  • Materials and resources
  • Indoor environmental quality

LEED AP Exams last for 2 hours, consist of 100 questions and cost $350.  To be a LEED AP, you must pass the LEED Green Associate Exam, pass one of the five LEED AP exams and have prior experience working on a LEED project.

Step 3: Supplemental Continuing Education for LEED may be pursued after you achieve LEED AP status.  These classes count towards Continuing Education Units (CEU) and meet the 2-year ($50) renewal requirement to maintain your LEED AP status.  Materials cover everything from the “ABCs of Sustainable Sites” to “Case Studies for LEED” to “LEED Certification Review.”

Written by Kate Waller, is a leading institution providing training that prepares professionals to successfully pass certification exams and boasts a 95% pass rate on the LEED exams.  Everblue is a veteran-founded organization with a best-in-class, continuing education curriculum that prepares professionals for all facets of the exploding green building, clean energy, and corporate sustainability industries.  This provides the workforce of tomorrow with the necessary skills to succeed in the “green-collar” economy.

[1] “Green Building Facts,” USGBC.

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One Person has left comments on this post

» Aaron Desatnik said: { Feb 21, 2011 - 03:02:10 }

Good points. I want to hazard readers that getting a green certification such as the LEED Green Associate credential doesn’t guarantee employment. Indeed, one of the problems that a lot of job training agencies came up against recently was that there was a lot of funding for BPI training, energy auditors, etc but few jobs, and the people that got the jobs were already in the industry but had lost their jobs (contractors who moved into energy auditing).

Further, being a LEED Green Associate doesn’t automatically make you able to work on a LEED project or to be a green building expert. It’s really an introductory-level credential that gives you the basics of everything but not the skills to necessarily work on a project.

That said, the number of LEED professionals out there is hard to ignore (on the scale of 150,000), so if you’re serious about a career transition into the green building field or are already in it but are hesitant to spend time and money on the LEED credential, it’s something to consider. And while there is a cost, the few hundred dollars is negligible compared to the marketing value it provides.

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