U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC®) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) is gaining recognition across the globe as the leading benchmark for the design, construction and operation of green buildings, and over 21,000 projects have been certified to date. As more projects seek LEED certification, demand will continue to increase for individuals who are knowledgeable on the strategies and concepts involved with LEED. One of the best ways to demonstrate this knowledge is with a LEED Green Associate® or LEED AP® (Accredited Professional) credential.
While earning a LEED credential can be a valuable tool for industry professionals, passing the exams can be a challenging task for many, especially for those with limited or no LEED project experience. For this reason, many individuals turn to preparatory programs prior to attempting the exams. While it is estimated that the overall LEED AP exam passage rate is only around 30 percent, many LEED training programs boast student passage rates near 90 percent and higher.
In addition to higher success rates, there are several other reasons why you may want to consider taking a prep course for the LEED exams. To begin, completing a class on green building, which includes LEED prep courses, is often the easiest option for individuals to fulfill the eligibility requirements to take the LEED Green Associate exam.
Another aspect to consider is that USGBC’s LEED reference guides, although thorough, can reach over 600 pages of information. With over 50 credits in each rating system, and an extensive list of referenced standards, there is an enormous amount of information to sort through and prioritize for the LEED exams. A prep course can help you to direct your focus and prepare more efficiently and effectively.
Additionally, registering for a prep course provides you with direct access to LEED experts. A good training program will encourage you to utilize your instructor and the company staff as a resource for on-demand study support. Along the same lines, a quality prep course will not only give you the materials and information you need for the exams, but also help you to develop a deeper understanding of the LEED strategies and processes, enabling you to apply your knowledge with confidence.
Once you decide to begin the process of preparing for a LEED exam, your first step is to find the right training program for you. To help sort through the sea of providers, there are a few questions you can ask about the programs that will easily separate quality from commodity.
Who is providing the course? During your initial research, request information on program and company accreditations, client references, and student testimonials to ensure the program’s legitimacy. Also request the resume of the course instructor, to verify if they are LEED accredited, have hands-on LEED project experience, and ideally also have previous teaching experience. What is the course syllabus and structure?
Typically one or two day courses are sufficient to cover the material for any of the LEED exams. Be wary of programs that include fillers, such as taking full-length practice exams during class, which can be a way for providers to increase the class time and therefore raise the price. Also be aware that USGBC does not approve any outside exam prep courses or content, and there is no “official” LEED curriculum, therefore any claims of this nature are false.
What is included with the course fee? A respectable training program will provide additional study tools to utilize after you have left the classroom, such as access to practice questions, study handouts, and other complementary study tools. Some programs will also allow you to attend a refresher course at a later date at no extra cost.
How is the training provider’s customer service? Even if you are able to find the answers to your questions online, calling the provider can give you a sense of its customer service and professionalism. Becoming accredited can be an involved process, and you want to make sure the provider will guide and support you from start to finish.
As for any professional exam, you must be ready to commit a significant amount of time and effort into your LEED exam preparation. However, utilizing the benefits of a quality training program can help to streamline your efforts and realize success.
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