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7/1/09 Update: If you're looking to keep up to date on LEED 2009 and related issues, I want to recommend checking out our own, which was recently launched. For firms or individuals contemplating the new LEED AP CMP system, I particularly recommend this article!

I was glad that my employer, BuildingGreen, picked up the cost of my LEED-AP exam. Becoming a LEED Accredited Professional through the Green Building Certification Institute (the new manager of the exam for the U.S. Green Building Council) costs a small chunk of change, in addition to the study time. How do firms approach this investment?

The Zweig Letter, "the voice of reason for architecture, engineering and environmental consulting firms," a weekly newsletter that we subscribe to, recently ran an article by Khrista Trerotola asking, "How does your firm get employees LEED accredited and how is the process handled and the costs covered?" From the article:

Adam Gross, principal at Ayers/Saint/Gross (ASG) (Baltimore, MD), a 140-person architecture and planning firm:

"ASG has 51 staff members who are LEED Accredited Professionals (LEED AP). This represents 51% of our architectural staff. The firm set a goal of getting more than 50% of our staff LEED AP, which we achieved by the end of 2007. We are also proud that 77% of our principals and 72% of all titled staff are LEED AP.

"We have a Sustainable Team within each office that coordinates general sustainability efforts relating to our projects. ASG encourages all its employees to become LEED APs.... ASG reimburses all employees when they pass the LEED exam for the full cost of the test. Up until the end of 2007, the cost of the test was $250 per person; currently, it is $300. To date, certifying our staff has cost ASG $12,750. We also compensate staff for 2.5 hours of time to take the test. As we have many staff who have already passed this test, the office has a strong support system in place to assist others with this effort...."

David Ohlemeyer, principal at The Lawrence Group, Inc. (St. Louis, MO), a 200-person building design, planning, and project delivery firm:

"Peer-led study groups for each section of the LEED... exam began here in August 2006.... The group was named Lawrence Group LEEDers. Volunteer teams presented material that is on the LEED accreditation exam to help participants gain an overall understanding of the LEED process and intent. The study group was open to anyone in the company, and The Lawrence Group provided the main conference room, lunch, and enormous encouragement. To date, The Lawrence Group has assisted 24 designers in becoming LEED APs."

How do your firms and businesses support you and your colleagues in becoming LEED-APs? How effective and useful is that support?

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1 My firm, Everblue Energy, is posted by Jon on 09/25/2008 at 07:50 pm

My firm, Everblue Energy, is a professional training company and we offer LEED Exam Prep Courses for both open enrollment and in-house/corporate training. What we find is that study groups are a good way to begin the process but that a class or a course is able to really focus the student's efforts and save them a significant amount of time while preparing for the exam. We routinely teach study groups that are 8-11 weeks into studying LEED by the time they take our course. At the end, they all have said, why didn't we do this sooner. My advice is to start with a focused course (such as the ones we offer) and then follow up with a study group or additional learning based on your the availability of your schedule.

2 Our firm has set a goal to ha posted by Seth Teel on 06/18/2008 at 06:04 am

Our firm has set a goal to have at least 50% of current employees LEED Accredited and requires all new employees to become LEED Accredited within one year of hire.

In order to further this lofty goal, the firm allows employees to expense LEED materials, pays for study time, and will cover the cost of the exam (twice if necessary). We also have a LEED AP Exam review that runs weekly for eight weeks each summer. Our review sessions count toward AIA and in-house training hours. The classes are administred by a vetran LEED AP and conveyed via WebEx. This allows us to simulcast the presentation to any of our employees regardless of location. In larger offices we have conference rooms reserved for each presentation, followed by a short Q&A . Employees are free to join the group in the conference rooms or attend from their desks. We have also created a study outline that coincides with each review session, as well as a network of reference and study materials uploaded to our intranet. The firm-wide review sessions are then mimmicked, at the office level, as needed, throughout the year.

3 I work at a firm of approxima posted by Joel McKellar, LEED AP on 03/04/2008 at 12:57 pm

I work at a firm of approximately 250 employees across five offices. We have an 6-hour, AIA-CEU accredited course that myself and partner in our firm lead approximately once a year over the course of about a month.

We also organize peer-study groups in the firm that I've found to be more successful. As much as people want to pass the exam, most aren't keen on studying for it. I've found that small peer study groups (4-5 people each) are much more effective, as it forces everyone to study at least once a week and present a credit. The hardest part about studying is starting, and once you crack the book you're likely to do the rest of the reading. Since others are relying on you each week to present your portion, there's a pretty good incentive not to let everyone down. Conversely, most people sitting in the CEU lectures would just show up without any preparation.

LS3P reimburses any employee that passes the exam.

4 In our 250 person firm (50+ L posted by Harry Flamm on 03/05/2008 at 06:11 am

In our 250 person firm (50+ LEED AP), we currently have ongoing lunchtime training sessions taught by fellow LEED AP staff, once a week for about eight classes, capped by a tour of a nearby LEED certified building. We recently started a separate class for LEED Commercial Interiors for our Interiors staff. Some people dive right into the test after the prep class is done, but many linger, so we are about to begin a LEED study group - to help continue the LEED dialog and motivate for the test.

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