LEED® Credential – Frequently Asked Questions
Last updated: October, 2016
Exam registration and logistics
Preparing for the exam – education and studying
Once you've earned your LEED credential: maintenance and use
Q: What is a LEED credential and how do I earn one?
A: The LEED credentials are earned by passing the LEED exams, administered by the U.S. Green Building Council. Exam applications are submitted through the USGBC website, www.usgbc.org.
Please note that you must become a Green Associate before attempting to become a LEED AP. You may take the Green Associate exam and one of the LEED AP exams on the same day if you feel qualified, but the Green Associate exam must be passed before you can be named a LEED AP.
There are three tiers of LEED Credentials:
- LEED® Green Associate
- LEED AP with specialty
- LEED Fellow
Tier I: LEED Green Associate
Please note that you must become a Green Associate before attempting to become a LEED AP. You may take the Green Associate exam and one of the LEED AP exams at the same time if you feel qualified, but the Green Associate exam must be passed before you can earn the credential of LEED AP.
The LEED Green Associate credential recognizes individuals with a demonstrated basic knowledge of green building fundamentals and commitment to sustainability and transformation of the built environment. The Green Associate credential is meant for professionals who support green building design, construction, and operations, in non-technical areas of practices, such as product manufacturers, real estate agents or brokers, higher education faculty. It must also be earned prior to becoming LEED AP. Building professionals who are new to green building and LEED can also pursue the Green Associate as an entry level designation which reflects their level of knowledge. This credential is a key mark of quality sought by employers that shows the world that the individual is at the forefront of the green building industry.
Tier II: LEED AP with specialty
The LEED AP with specialty credential demonstrates an advanced depth of knowledge in green building practices and specialization in a particular LEED Rating System. This credential is best suited for those professionals with hands-on technical experience on a LEED registered and/or certified project. This would be individuals such as architects, designers, engineers, designers, building managers etc. There are five (5) areas for specialization:
- LEED AP Building Design + Construction (BD + C)
- LEED AP Homes
- LEED AP Interior Design +Construction (ID + C)
- LEED AP Neighborhood Development (ND)
- LEED AP Operations + Maintenance (O+M)
Tier III: LEED AP Fellow
The LEED Fellow credential distinguishes an extraordinary class of leading professionals. Fellows contribute to the standards of practice and body of knowledge for achieving continuous improvement in the green building field. To be eligible for this designation, you must have been a LEED AP for at least eight (8) years and be enrolled and/or have achieved the LEED AP with specialty designation. The LEED Fellow credential is a peer-reviewed and nominated credential.
Exam registration and logistics
Q: How do I register for and write the exam(s)?
On the USGBC homepage, you can click on Credentials and then choose Register for the Exam, under either the LEED Green Associate or the LEED AP options.
You will be prompted to create a USGBC profile or login to your existing account in order to submit your application, which is a web-based form. You will complete the application and then pay the applicable exam fees (in U.S. dollars) to submit. You will receive an on-screen and email notification to confirm that your application was successfully submitted.
Each notification will include a link to Prometric's online scheduling system where you may register for your exam. Prometric test centres are located across Canada and you may choose the location, date and time that is convenient for you, up to three months in advance. The exact address of the Prometric test center in your city/province can be found on by visiting their website here. You will have to select an exam in order to view the test centres.
You can find a step-by-step guide to the exam applications in the LEED®v4 candidate exam handbooks which are available as free downloads from the USGBC website here.
Q: Which exam should I write?
A: This decision is dependent on a variety of factors – LEED project experience, time available for preparation and maintenance of the credential, professional demands and financial resources. Please note however that you MUST pass the Green Associate exam prior to attempting the LEED AP.
Many people choose to earn the LEED Green Associate credential as an entry level credential until they gain the necessary LEED project experience to be better prepared to challenge for the LEED AP credential of their choice, however as just mentioned, they can be taken in a combined exam on the same day.
The Green Associate is suitable for those who do not have the level of technical experience on a LEED registered and/or certified project required to earn the LEED AP. The Green Associate can also be a standalone credential for industry professionals who are not likely to be a regular member of the decision-making team for a LEED project.
The LEED AP with specialty is intended for individuals who are able to demonstrate active, ongoing participation on a LEED registered and/or certified project in a leadership or management role.
The combined LEED AP exam includes the Green Associate and the specialty of your choice and is four (4) hours long, with 200 multiple choice questions. When you pass the combined LEED AP exam, your credential reflects your specialty credential (BD+C, O+M, Homes etc).
Q: Do I have to write the LEED Green Associate exam first?
A: The Green Associate exam is part of the combined LEED AP exam but is also available as a standalone exam. If you plan to challenge for the LEED AP credential, you have the option to write the exams separately. In this case, you would write the Green Associate portion first and then on a separate date, the specialty portion. The full exam is four hours. If you choose to write the exams separately, you will have to apply for them separately and pay the applicable exam for the Green Associate, and for the LEED AP with specialty.
Q: How are the LEED v4 exams different from the 2009 based exams?
A: The main change introduced with the LEED v4 exams is that the content includes a focus on Task Domains, or what LEED professionals need to do. In the LEED v4 exams, Knowledge Domains reflect the rating systems' credit categories and what one needs to know. These include concepts such as LEED Process, Integrative Strategies, LEED credit categories, and Project Surroundings and Public Outreach. Task Domains reflect the tasks necessary to perform LEED safely and effectively. These include concepts such as LEED Project and Team Coordination, LEED Certification Process, Analyses Required for LEED Credits, and Advocacy and Education for Adoption for LEED Rating System. You can find more information about these updates in the applicable LEED v4 exam handbooks here.
Q: How often are the LEED exams updated?
The LEED professional exams are updated on July 1 of every year; this update incorporates LEED addenda published through April 1st of the same year.
Q: What do I need to demonstrate my eligibility for the exams? Do I have to submit a letter?
A: With the transition of the exams to the LEED v4 rating systems, you are no longer required to submit formal documentation of your eligibility. It is still strongly recommend for the Green Associate credential, that you have had some type of exposure to LEED and green building concepts through educational courses, volunteering, or work experience prior to writing the exams. If you are planning to take one of the LEED AP exams, you are strongly recommended to have prior LEED project experience as it is critical to the designation and, as such, project proficiency will be tested objectively within the LEED AP exam itself.
All candidates must agree to the Disciplinary and Exam Appeals Policy and credentialing maintenance requirements, must submit to an application audit, and be 18 years of age or older.
Q: Where do I write the exams and where?
A: The exams are written at Prometric test centres. Instructions on scheduling your LEED exam can be found in candidate handbooks which are available as a free download here. They are very helpful and informative resources for LEED exam preparation. Please note that an eligibility ID is valid for one exam attempt. Should you fail your exam, you will have to register for a retake.
Q: Will I be able to write my exam in French?
A: All of the LEED Professional exams are available at Prometric test centers in Canada in English, and several of the exams, including the LEED Green Associate, LEED AP BD+C and O+M are available in French, Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish and Chinese (simplified). The exam handbooks have also been translated and can be found on the USGBC website here.
Please note that the USGBC is still in the process of updating some of the exams' content to LEED v4, but those that are not updated are still available in v2009 until further notice.
Q: How much do the exams cost?
A: The LEED exams fees are as follows:
LEED Green Associate
Exam fee: $200* ($250 for non-members)
Maintenance: $85 every two years
LEED AP with specialty
Combined exam fee: $400 ($550 for non-members)
Specialty only exam fee: $250 ($350 for non-members)
Maintenance: $85* every two years
*Please note all pricing is in U.S. dollars and includes application fees which were previously listed separately.
Q: Do CaGBC members receive discounts on the exams?
A: CaGBC Corporate members are eligible for member pricing on LEED Professional Exams.
To receive the member discount, CaGBC members must call USGBC customer service at +1-202-742-3792 prior to scheduling their exam.
This process must be completed by phone, as we are two separate organizations, and our membership data is not accessible through the USGBC website.
The USGBC receives updates of CaGBC membership on a monthly basis, so they can verify your information. You will be asked to confirm your Credential account information, your company name and company member ID number. Please note that chapter members are not eligible for discounts for the exams.
Q: How are the LEED exams scored?
A: All LEED professional exams are scored between 125 and 200. A score of 170 or higher is required to pass. The exam has both scored and unscored items. All items are delivered randomly throughout the exam and candidates are not informed of an item’s status, so candidates should respond to all the items on the exam. Unscored items are used to gather performance data to inform whether the item should be scored on future exams.
Preparing for the exam – education and studying
Q: What resources and materials should I study to prepare for an exam? Do I study on my own?
A: We advise all exam candidates to review the relevant candidate handbook to ensure they understand what references have been used to develop the exams. The basis for all of the current exams is the LEED v4 rating system. Students can study on their own, but it is recommended that they consider taking a study course to help them best prepare.
For candidates choosing to study on their own for the LEED Green Associate exam, we recommend the Green Associate Study Guide, the Green Associate Online Practice Exams (4 exams at 100 questions each) and the Green Associate 101 Questions Answers Document. You can find these on our store by clicking here.
We have reviewed these study materials and found them to be excellent source of support for the LEED Green Associate exam (even helping CaGBC staff pass).
Q: Is there a CaGBC study course that I can take to help me prepare for a LEED exam?
A: CaGBC currently offers several different options to help people prepare for and pass the Green Associate exam. With the transition to LEED v4 and the availability of the Canadian Alternative Compliance Paths (ACPs), the CaGBC, has up to date courses available both in class and online.
Click here to view our study course options.
CaGBC also offers the following training on University and College Campuses across the country.
LEED Green Associate Study course - for full-time students - Perfect for students who want to earn a professional LEED credential while in school, thisone-day course provides the foundational knowledge for the LEED Green Associate exam. It is an important element of an individual's study plan, providing opportunities to gain and test new knowledge through lectures, small and large group activities, and practice test questions. This course can be organized as a school initiative or through a student group. For more information, contact your local Chapter or email@example.com
Once you've earned your LEED credential: maintenance and use
Q: How do I maintain my credential?
A: LEED Green Associates must complete fifteen (15) hours of credential maintenance every two year cycle, while LEED AP's with specialty must complete thirty (30) hours. For Green Associates, three of the fifteen hours must be LEED specific, which is defined as an activity that has an explicit connection to processes, procedures, or concepts (i.e. intents, requirements, and strategies) found in any of the current LEED rating systems. For LEED APs with specialty, six (6) of the thirty hours must be LEED specific and related to their area of specialty. All CE hours are reported through your LEED credentialing account on the USGBC website (the same account used to apply for your exam). If you experience login difficulties, please contact USGBC customer service, by phone at +1-202-742-3792 or through the Credentialing questoni portal on the Contact Us page of their website here.
You do not need to report any continuing education to CaGBC. You can continue to look to CaGBC for quality, leading edge education to help you stay at the forefront of the green building industry. Please review the information further down in this FAQ for more information about how we can help you stay current.
Q: What happens if I am unable to meet the continuing education requirements to maintain my credential?
A: LEED Professionals' credential(s) will expire if they fail to complete the CMP requirements and submit for renewal 90 days after their reporting period. Please note that any continuing education hours reported within the 90 day grace period must have been earned during your reporting period. You may not use courses or project experience earned outside of that time. If unforeseen circumstances prevent you from being able to complete your credential maintenance in your two-year reporting period, you may request a waiver or extension. Please review the current Credentialing Maintenance Program (CMP) Guide on the USGBC website here for more details.
Q: How do I know when my reporting period begins and ends?
A: Your reporting period begins on the date you passed your exam (or enrollment date for original LEED APs) and ends two years minus one day later.
Q: When I will receive my certificate indicating my LEED designation?
A: Once your exam results have been processed, you can download your certificate through your LEED credentialing account. Certificates are available in two forms: PDF (printable) soft copy (available by download at any time for free from your credentialing account) or a hardcopy, at a cost of $25 each.
Q: How should I note my LEED credential on my business cards, email signature etc?
A: When you pass the LEED Green Associate exam, you may use the title “LEED Green Assoc” and/or the logo. All other instances should be noted as “LEED Green Associate” or “LEED Green Assoc.” Please note that LEED GA is not an approved abbreviation for the LEED Green Associate, and should not be used under any circumstances.
When you pass the LEED AP exam, you may use the title “LEED AP” followed by your specialty(ies): BD+C, Homes, ID+C, ND, O+M and/or the logo. While LEED is a registered trademark, USGBC and GBCI do not require LEED Professionals to use the '®' or 'TM' symbols in email signatures or on business cards. Please review the LEED professional credentials section of the USGBC Trademark Policy and Branding Guidelines for additional guidance.
Q: Do my hours count with my Architectural Association?
A: While we do not have an ongoing agreement with the various architectural associations across the country, many do recognize the CE hours from the CaGBC. Please check with your provincial association.