The new Green Building Certification Institutes, sister organization to Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Green Building Council, is about to launch a total overhaul of the exam system for professionals seeking accreditation to design and build green buildings according to USGBC’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system, known as LEED.

The overhaul, announced at USGBC’s Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, Nov. 19-21 in Boston, creates a tiered-credential and specific tests for different types of buildings. GBCI, formed last month, will take over credentialing and building certification from USGBC in January. Peter Templeton, USGBC’s former vice president of education and research, is president of GBCI.

Removing the functions from USGBC will bring a sense of “auditability and accountability to the credentialing and certification process,” said Rick Toller, a GBCI spokesman, at the event, which drew a record 28,224 registrants.

Also at Greenbuild, USGBC announced approval and rollout of an updated LEED. LEED 2009, which covers new commercial construction, core and shell, commercial interiors, existing buildings operations and maintenance and schools, includes a series of changes focused on improving energy efficiency, reducing carbon emissions and addressing other environmental and human health issues, says USGBC.

Rollout for LEED Accredited Professional Exams
February 2009
  LEED Green Associate Exam—beta test
  LEED AP+ Operations and Maintenance Exam—beta test
March 2009
  LEED AP+ Homes Exam—beta test
Spring 2009
  LEED Green Associate Exam—launch
  LEED AP+ Operations and Maintenance Exam—launch
  LEED AP+ Design and Construction/Interior Design and Construction—beta test
  New candidate application
Summer 2009
  LEED AP+ Homes Exam—launch
  LEED AP+ Design and Construction/Interior Design and Construction—launch
  New Credentialing Maintenance Program— launch

LEED 2009 also will incorporate regional credits identified as priorities within a project’s environmental zone. LEED also has undergone a reweighting of credits, changing point allocation to reflect climate change and energy efficiency as priorities. This will provide a way for green buildings to contribute “immediate and measurable solutions toward energy independence and climate-change mitigation,” says USGBC.

Three Levels

The three levels of accreditation, from the lowest to highest, are: LEED green associate, LEED AP+, for those with an “extraordinary” depth of knowledge in green building, and LEED AP Fellow. The top tier is for green-building leaders, who will go through a portfolio peer review. Existing LEED-accredited professionals will be able to continue to use their LEED AP, but they must take an exam to become part of the new system. GBCI will begin offering exams in the spring. For LEED AP+, there will be separate tests in operations and maintenance, homes, and design and construction/interior design and construction.