The value of green building expertise is growing in today’s Facility Management world, as interest in sustainability grows among corporations, health care providers, educational institutions, and other large organizations. One great way for a Facility Manager to demonstrate his or her knowledge in green design - and to position themselves for a leadership role within their organization - is to become a LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP).
What Is LEED AP?
LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. According to the US Green Building Council (USGBC), the organization that started LEED, it’s the most widely recognized and widely used green building rating system in the world. And while it isn’t an easy exam to pass, taking the time to go through the accreditation process offers a multitude of benefits for Facility Managers — including a more thorough understanding of the LEED rating systems as well as the ability to demonstrate an in-depth understanding of green buildings to his or her superior.
Today, more than 60,000 industry professionals carry the LEED AP designation, and it’s become a highly sought-after accreditation for many Facility Managers and Facility Executives throughout the country.
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How to Become a LEED AP
1. Prepare for, schedule, and take the exam.
Facility Managers who are looking to become LEED APs must pass a rigorous, 100 question multiple choice examination, which measures knowledge about green building, the specific LEED rating system, and the certification process. A score of 170 out of 200 is required to pass.
The combined exam includes the LEED Green Associate and LEED AP With Specialty exams. To prepare, FMs can obtain study materials from the Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), which publishes a handbook for each of the LEED exams. You can either read through the materials on your own, join or form a study group, or take a course on the material (there are quite a few online and in-person options).
The exams are administered through a proctoring company called Prometric, which has testing centers in all major cities around the world. A quick search should show you the one nearest to you.
2. Choose a specialty.
There are several specialties to choose from. The rating systems include LEED for Building Construction and Design (BD+C), Operations and Management (O+M), Interior Design and Construction (ID+C), Neighborhood Development (ND), and Homes.
LEED for Operations and Maintenance (O+M) is probably the most pertinent to Facility Managers, as it can act as a blueprint for implementing sustainable facility management strategies. The O+M specialty “distinguishes professionals implementing sustainable practices, improving performance, heightening efficiency, and reducing environmental impact in existing buildings through enhanced operations and maintenance;” [usgbc.org], which makes it a great choice for FMs as an additional accreditation.
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3. Maintain your LEED Accreditation with continuing education.
To maintain your LEED AP credentials, you’re required to earn 30 continuing education hours within two years of passing the exam. Generally, you can obtain CE hours through education, project experience, authorship, and volunteering.
As most Facility Managers know, the term ‘green building’ has gone from being a vague catchphrase to being more of a mainstream practice; and having your LEED AP credentials could mean the difference between landing a project and being passed over for it. Facility Managers and their team play a big role in the building operations that lead to LEED- Certification, and many FMs are directly responsible for overseeing their building or organization’s path to becoming greener and more sustainable.
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It’s no question that sustainability and efficiency efforts in the building industry will continue to expand, which makes it that much more important for Facility Managers to continue their education in these fields.