What Is LEED and the LEED Green Associate Certification?

LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a certification system and guide developed by the US Green Building Council (USGBC) for both promoting and recognizing high-performance buildings and sustainable neighborhoods.

Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) is the organization that trains and certifies professionals in their mastery of LEED principles and their ability to attain LEED accreditation for projects. The LEED Green Associate certification is the baseline credential that demonstrates green building knowledge and expertise in design, construction, and building operation.

I have been a certified LEED Green Associate for two years since deciding to earn the credential to further my project management and freelance engineering consultant business. The credential fits well with my engineering background and passion for a sustainable future and I’m always eager to help other professionals earn the certification.

Why Do I Need The LEED Green Associate Certificate?

The LEED Green Associate credential is a great way to stand out in the building industry and to distinguish yourself as a sustainability-minded professional. Like many certifications, earning the LEED Green Associate credential can be an excellent bullet point to add to the top of your resume and depending on your industry, it can make you more hirable, retainable, and profitable.

As a LEED Professional, you are capable of applying LEED principles to shape the design, construction, and operation of buildings and neighborhoods. LEED Green Associates often serve on construction project teams to help guide the sustainable focus of a project. They also commonly work on certification teams that put together reports and applications to get projects successfully rated on the LEED certification scale.

Most importantly, the world needs more LEED professionals. As climate change and global warming become even more evident, LEED Professionals put sustainable thinking first to build a higher quality future for the world. As a LEED Green Associate, you will have the knowledge and credentials to positively impact environmental sustainability practices in your business.

How to Prepare for the LEED Green Associate Exam 

Creating a schedule and scheduling your exam is the most important step to starting your preparation. Committing to a test date and locking into your registration is the best way to prevent yourself from procrastinating and pushing the exam off. Once you’ve scheduled it, the date you will take your test becomes real and should motivate you to prepare!

Registration for the exam is done online, through USGBC’s site user account. If you already have an account, you can navigate to the credentialing area of the site and sign up for an exam there. If you don’t have an account, you can create one at www.usgbc.org/credentials. The exam is administered globally by the outside testing agency, Prometric.

With your exam date and testing center set up, it’s time to create your study plan. Generally speaking, you will need about 60 hours to study and confidently pass the LEED Green Associate exam. Your study time can be broken up however you like, and it’s important that you create a schedule that fits your current work and lifestyle. Make sure you don’t separate your study sessions too far apart, knowledge is perishable!

What to Expect on the LEED Green Associate Exam 

The LEED Green Associate base of knowledge is comprised of definitions, technical tables, certification categories, and green initiative concepts that all need to be understood for the test. There is certain information, like the ASHRAE standards, Refrigerants Table, and key definitions that you will need to completely memorize for the test.

You should have a strong understanding for green building concepts like the Triple Bottom Line and regenerative design, as well as an understanding for each LEED credit category. As a general rule of thumb for studying, every LEED credit category has prerequisites and an assigned number of points. The higher the point value for a category, the more heavily it is often tested on the exam, so use this to guide your studying!

The LEED exam is very heavily weighted on memorizing the key LEED vocabulary items, specific regulations and their purposes, credit point values, and technical tables that apply to LEED categories. The test makers also enjoy assessing your ability to discern between what is a LEED prerequisite, and what is a credit category, so it’s important to know the difference!

Tips for Preparing for the LEED Green Associate Exam 

To prepare for my exam, I used the LEED Green Associate Exam Complete Study Guide, offered by Togay Koralturk and available online at most retailers. There are numerous exam preparation books and programs available online, and each has their own merits to fit your learning style.

In my experience, the best way to study for the LEED Green Associate Exam is to go once completely through whatever study resource you have decided to use. This will give you a baseline understanding of the entire LEED Green Associate knowledgebase and is when you can start testing yourself with practice questions to identify your shortcomings.

In my preparation, I also relied heavily on doing practice questions to prepare for the exam. Quizzing yourself regularly and getting in practice with answering LEED questions is a vital step to being prepared for the exam. Quizzing encourages better memory retention and is also a way to pinpoint areas where you need more practice. The Pocket Prep app is a great resource for doing practice questions and it has multiple quizzing options.

Tips for Test Day 

When the test day finally comes, it’s important to make sure that you are well-rested and fueled for the exam. Ensure you get a good night’s sleep the night before, and it’s ideal to eat a meal before you begin the exam.

You are not permitted to bring study materials into the testing area, but you will be given a pen and scratch paper for notes. I recommend preparing a brain dump for the first few minutes of the exam.

The brain dump is a common technique used for exams where as soon as the test starts, you write out key tables and terms that you’ve memorized to help you on the rest of the exam. This is a great strategy to use in organizing the numerous ASHRAE standards, technical specifications, and acronyms that you need to have memorized for the exam.

Pocket Prep provides study prep for the LEED Green Associate exam that includes 500 practice questions reflective of the latest exam standards and multiple custom quizzing modules. Over 70,000 people have studied for the Green Associate exam using Pocket Prep’s app. Download the Pocket Prep Professional app for free in the App Store. If you prefer studying on desktop, the same practice questions are also available via our online study portal.