Best Practices in Sustainability: New LEED AP Options Target FMs

June 5, 2006
Two new tracks will feature second and third options for achieving a LEED AP designation

The designation of LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP) will become more diversified this fall with the addition of two new tracks, providing facilities managers with a relevant path to LEED professional accreditation. These new tracks will feature second and third options for achieving a LEED AP designation (there is currently one exam that leads to LEED AP designation, and it’s associated with the LEED for New Construction [LEED-NC] rating system).

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), Washington, D.C., plans to roll out professional accreditation exams to accompany its LEED for Commercial Interiors (LEED-CI) and LEED for Existing Buildings (LEED-EB) rating systems, which were released in late 2004. The EB accreditation exam is targeted specifically toward facilities management practitioners, notes Peter Templeton, USGBC’s vice president of education and research.

He notes that there are already “a handful of accredited facilities managers” under the current program, which is “much more focused on design and construction components than [on] the building operations side. With the introduction of LEED-EB, we’re providing an avenue for the core facilities management audience,” Templeton says. “We’re looking at what happens to a LEED-rated building once it is completed. We have to have qualified professionals able to maintain and operate those buildings. We also need people to incorporate green practices into existing buildings that weren’t built green. We want to make sure the industry has a place to go.”

The accreditation test linked to the LEED-EB rating system will focus on the technical knowledge covered within the rating system, which includes everything from site aspects and landscape water usage to integrated pest management and energy issues, and a whole host of other operations and maintenance components. Templeton says the accreditation will serve not only facilities managers, but will also be attractive to secondary audiences such as service providers and consultants, energy consultants, manufacturer representatives, and others.

“Not only are we looking for technical knowledge [in the exams], we’re also looking at the LEED-EB [certification process],” Templeton says. “This is where the credential comes in. The more we do to streamline and bring expertise to the table, [the more] organizations will be able to more readily adopt green operating practices as defined by LEED-EB.”

While the other new exam (the LEED-CI professional accreditation test) is aimed primarily at interiors professionals, facilities management professionals involved with building fit-outs are also an attractive secondary audience for the exam, Templeton explains.

“When we look at the integrated design process, we hope they get involved in these spaces in the facility, providing input into the process for new construction or commercial interiors,” he says.

Changes are also occurring with the one existing LEED Professional Accreditation exam, which is based on the LEED-NC Rating System Version 2.1. The USGBC is working to update the existing LEED Professional Accreditation exam for LEED Version 2.2. The expected release of the updated exam is in the fall of 2006. Candidates accredited under the current version of the exam will not be required to retest once the updated version is released.

Both new accreditation exams will be undergoing beta testing in June; open registration will begin in the fall. The computer-based exam will be offered nationwide. Information about testing availability will be offered on the USGBC’s website (

With these impending changes and additions to the LEED accreditation process, Templeton points out that the USGBC’s goal isn’t to segment the LEED audience, but to convene it into one established credential: LEED AP. These three different versions of the exam will be specialized tracks that lead to one common goal.

“We have different audiences; that’s why we’re introducing new tracks for LEED accreditation,” Templeton says, adding that the addition of a LEED AP professional on a project team earns the building one point toward LEED certification, regardless of the track the individual followed to become accredited.

“The industry is embracing the credential, and we want to make sure that whatever we do supports the integrity of that credential. We want to establish consistency and credibility through the rigor of the exam - no matter which tracks [were followed]. LEED AP is LEED AP. People who come in and take the exam want to distinguish themselves.”

Robin Suttell ([email protected]), based in Cleveland, is contributing editor at Buildings magazine.

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