GBCI Streamlines LEED Credentialing, Offers New Window for Legacy LEED APs
In an email going out today to LEED Professionals, the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCIThe Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) manages Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building certification and professional accreditation processes. It was established in 2008 with support from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).) is announcing a series of changes to its LEED Credential Maintenance Program (CMP), as well as related changes to how people become LEED credentialed. The changes are all being made with the intent of easing requirements that LEED APs have for years complained about as confusing and bureaucratic. Among the changes is a new opportunity for LEED APs with an older version of the credential to upgrade to the new credential.
“We analyzed a lot of the feedback from the last three years, looking at the whole program from start to finish and analyzing the pain points,” Erin Emery Hartz, manager of marketing and product development at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), told LEEDuser. According to Emery Hartz, a team at USGBC and GBCI “looked at the entire process from taking the exam to recording hours, looked at every business rule, and cut out half the requirements.” She noted, “The effort is to simplify and to make a much better credential experience.”
Most of the changes will take effect on November 12, according to Emery Hartz. Following are the most noteworthy changes.
- Streamlined activity types: The four types of activities that will contribute to continuing education hours will be Education (including from approved providers, colleges, etc.), LEED Project Experience, Volunteering, and Authorship. Previously, there have been eight activity types, each with its own rules about how many hours can contribute to the 30 required biennially. Now, volunteering will have a 50% limit, while the others will have no limit.
- Categories eliminated: Credential holders will no longer have to report a category (such as “Project Site Factors,” or “Water Management”) when reporting CE hours. GBCI still hopes professionals will spread out their hours among various topics, but it won’t ask you to prove it.
- Simplified reporting forms: CE reporting forms are going to be a lot simpler, according to Emery Hartz, asking only for dates, title, number of hours you’ve earned.
- Automated reporting: Although GBCI does not have a firm roll-out date for this feature, they are working on allowing education providers to automatically report CE hours on your behalf, much like AIA allows. Greenbuild attendees will enjoy this benefit as part of a staged rollout. (And BuildingGreen, Inc. publisher of LEEDuser, will offer this option as soon as GBCI enables it.)
- LEED Green Associate (LEED GA) eligibility: GBCI is eliminating eligibility requirements to become a Green Associate—the credential will be open to anyone over age 18. (A letter from one’s employer meeting lengthy requirements can now be skipped.)
- LEED AP eligibility: It will be easier to confirm eligibility to become a LEED AP. No more lengthy letter—just submit the email address of their supervisor, and GBCI will take it from there.
- Exam application: GBCI is cutting in half the steps for exam application and registration.
Prescriptive path alternative
There is one more change that Emery Hartz touts as having the broadest impact. “Legacy” LEED APs—those whose credential became outdated with the introduction of LEED specialties (like LEED AP BD+C) in 2009, have previously been asked, in order to demonstrate broad LEED and green expertise, to either retest or follow a complicated prescriptive path to earn their specialty.
GBCI, with USGBC, will offer an alternative: USGBC has developed an intensive six-hour webinar series, Principles of LEED, which will be offered free to all LEED APs. Let’s break down the impact of this offering:
- For LEED APs with specialty who opted in to prescriptive credential maintenance, the webinars offer a quick and easy alternative. Just complete the webinar series and your prescriptive requirements are met.
- Legacy LEED APs who did not opt in (the initial two-year opt-in window closed for everyone a little over a year ago) can use this series to opt in and meet their prescriptive requirements. That’s right—“It’s a final opportunity for those who never opted in,” says Emery Hartz. (Retesting always remains an option, of course.)
- Any LEED AP with specialty or Green Associate can use the free webinar series to earn six free LEED-specific credential maintenance hours.
What do you think?
What do you think of these changes? If you've been frustrated with the the LEED CMP, will they be enough to assuage your concerns? If you're a Legacy LEED AP, will you opt in? Post your comments below.