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How to Earn L.E.E.D. Certification as a Contractor

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LEED stands for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. This certification goes beyond energy conservation and moves towards sustainable design. According to Jerry Yudelson in his 2008 book, "Marketing Green Building Services," the LEED rating system is the only rating system that significantly drives green building demand in the United States. Many contractors, architects and engineers are evaluating all certifications in the marketplace and have rapidly adopted the LEED standard.

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Determine which LEED accredited professional (LEED AP) certification suits your skills and career. All AP exams come in two parts: the first focusing on the Green Associate material and the second focusing on the specialization. Select between Building Design and Construction for architects, Interior Design and Construction for designers, Homes for home builders, Operations and Maintenance for those maintaining existing buildings, or Neighborhood Development for those who design and develop neighborhoods. Contractors starting out in the field may elect to take the Green Associate and then select an accredited professional exam in the future.

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Document work experience and education to qualify to take the exam. To sit for the LEED AP exam, the applicant needs to document work experience that includes involvement on a project registered or certified for LEED. Applicants also need to submit to an audit and agree to the appeals process and certificate maintenance. Contractors starting out in the field without work experience can qualify to take the Green Associate exam by completing an educational course that covers green building practices and then sit for specific AP exams after gaining more work experience.

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Apply for the exam through logging into the Green Building Certification Institute website. Enter your personal information. Credentials and experience on the website. Ensure that you enter your name exactly as it appears on your identification that you plan to use at the exam center. Double check to ensure you are applying for the correct exam, and upload your required attestation documents in the form of an image. For Accredited Professional exams, ensure that the project submitted is a LEED certified project. Select the Prometric testing facility to take the exam. Be prepared to pay for the non-refundable exam fee at this time.

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Review the LEED AP specific course materials available from the U.S. Green Building Council to ensure that you are prepared for the exam. Use the practice questions to identify areas to study. A variety of courses are available through the U.S. Green Building Council or through approved training facilities to help you prepare for the exam.

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Take the closed-book exam at the Prometric testing facility that you selected during registration. Prometric recommends arriving at least 30 minutes prior to your scheduled testing time. At the end of the two-hour exam, a preliminary score will be shown, indicating if you have passed. The LEED certificate will be mailed to the address you provided during registration.


While the LEED AP and the LEED Green Associate exams focus on basic green-building knowledge and will not require extensive technical details, it is important to prepare for typical questions that would be on the exam.


Do not inflate or exaggerate your LEED experiences on projects as you need to submit the materials on-line and may be audited. LEED products must be logged through the U.S. Green Building Council. If your credentials are fraudulent, you will not be allowed to take the certification.


  • "Marketing Green Building Services Strategies for Success;" Jerry Yudelson; 2008
  • "LEED Practices, Certification, and Accreditation Handbook;" Sam Kubba Ph.D., LEED AP; 2010


About the Author

Brad Norton started writing training manuals for Merck in 1996. Since 2006, he has been a ghostwriter for blogs and articles. He holds a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry from Texas A&M University, an M.B.A. in marketing from the University of Minnesota and a certificate in advanced project management from Stanford University.

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  • Office building 4 image by Pontus Edenberg from