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LEED accreditation program in transition

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by Richard Gilbert

The Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) has taken over the LEED AP accreditation program and is creating a new rating system for professionals in Canada who want to obtain or maintain this qualification.


The Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) has taken over the LEED AP accreditation program and is creating a new rating system for professionals in Canada who want to obtain or maintain this qualification.

“People have to understand that the rating systems and taking LEED AP is uncharted territory,” said Thomas Mueller, president and CEO of the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC).

“Next year, there will be an update to the rating system called LEED 2012, which means exams will have to be changed to be consistent with the new system.

“There will also be an international LEED and Canada will have a LEED system that is an adaptation to this system.”

The GBCI is an independent, third-party organization established in 2008 to administer project certifications and professional accreditation within the framework of the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) LEED rating systems.

“GBCI updated all the examinations in 2008 and at that point, the Canadian exams were outdated,” said Beth Holst, vice president of credentialling for GBCI.

“Canada GBC agreed to shut down the old exams and have GBCI introduce all the new examinations.

“This change introduces Canadian LEED professionals to the global market as accredited professionals,” she said.

The administration of the LEED AP program in Canada made the transition from the CaGBC to the GBCI in 2010.

“Basically, an existing LEED AP can be grandfathered into the program,” explained Mueller.

“By October this year, they need to contact the GBCI and say I am a LEED AP, I took the exam and would like to maintain the credential.”

LEED APs in Canada received an e-mail in 2010 from the GBCI asking them to enroll in the new credential program.

Once enrolled, they are eligible for the LEED Green Associate credential, which denotes basic knowledge of green design, construction and operations.

“The GCBI is currently working to internationalize the exams and remove any questions that are U.S.-centric,” said Mueller.

“We are also working on a translation tool, which puts the exams into French because in Canada the exams must be delivered in both French and English.”

A new LEED AP with specialty designation is now available and those wanting to can start their credential maintenance.

Enrolment for the new designation wraps up on Oct. 27, 2011.

“The LEED AP with specialty credentials allow an individual to demonstrate his or her understanding of comprehensive green building practices, along with advanced specialized knowledge in a particular field,” said Holst.

“The flexible credential maintenance component of this program ensures that credential holders stay current with the evolving body of knowledge and green building practice.”

The LEED AP credential covers the following specialty areas: LEED AP Operations + Maintenance; LEED AP Homes; LEED AP Building Design + Construction; LEED AP Interior Design +Construction and LEED AP Neighborhood Development.

“The advantage of the new system, in terms of the specialization, is it provides more opportunities for Canadians to get LEED Accreditation within their designated field,” said Steve Dulmage, director of education with the CaGBC.

“The other advantage is differentiation because we have a first level, a LEED AP with specialties and have now launched a LEED Fellow, which is based on knowledge and experience.”

To obtain the specialty designation, candidates can write and pass one or more specialty exams or commit to 30 hours of continuing education requirements in a two-year period.

“For some people, it’s a change from writing one exam and passing, to a system where an individual must update and maintain their credential every two years,” said Dulmage

“What is important is the program has been designed to be very flexible and you can get your hours in so many ways.”

The newest and most prestigious professional designation offered by the GBCI is the LEED Fellow.

“The highest level is the LEED Fellow and very few people will get this designation,” said Mueller. “You need to be a LEED AP for 10 years and the people who nominate you must be a LEED AP for eight years.

“At this level, you are at the top of your profession and don’t need to maintain your credential.”

The LEED Fellow is an experienced professional, who contributes to the standards of practice and body of knowledge for achieving continuous improvement in the green building field.

“This has been a good move because it gives the LEED accreditation more credibility in the market place,” said Mueller.

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