LEED v4 Exam Changes

Claire Moser's picture
Claire Moser
Consultant
March 20, 2013

How and when will the LEED exams change with the arrival of v4 this summer?  Should I take the Green Associate now or wait until after v4?

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María Fernanda Aguirre's picture
March 20
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Initially LEED V4 was to be launched at november, 2012, unfortunatelly it had appeared in the last time some issues regarding mostly materials and their components, thus, new launch time will be at november of this year despite there are currently pilot projects around the worls testing this new version. My recomendation for you is to to take Green Associate Testing as soon as possible and then prepare yourself for about 3 months and then test for a LEED AP with specialty. Do not wait until V4 appears because I guarantee you it will be harder to get the credentials then as LEED V4 considers more credits and differente approaches. Good luck!

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Hi Claire, thank you for your question, which is one that has come up a lot in recent months. The LEED v4 rating system will be balloted in summer 2013 and beta tested through November 2013.

As anyone who has read the v4 draft would know, there are substantial changes to all the rating systems, plus the addition of some new rating systems (such as Data Centers, Mid-Rise Homes, and Warehouses and Distribution Centers). USGBC has shifted the credit weightings and added new credits to focus more on measurement and performance.

Overall, there are 23 credits that USGBC claims will have “substantive changes” if they make it through the ballot. There are a lot of changes and new or renamed credits in the Materials and Resources credit category, including Material Ingredients, Material Efficient Framing, Sourcing of Raw Materials, and Environmental Product Declaration. The Indoor Water Use prerequisite (formerly Water Use Reduction), Minimum Energy Performance, and Optimize Energy Performance will see big changes (as part of the effort to focus on measurement and performance). Other new credits include Green Vehicles, Sensitive Land Protection, and Interior Lighting.


As you can see, while the skeleton of LEED 2009 will still remain, there will be significant changes that will undoubtedly change the content of the exams - it’s just a matter of when and how.

When Will the Exams Change?

When I called GBCI in 2012 (back when the new rating system was still called “LEED 2012”), the representative told me the exams would not change through 2012. Now when I called, the representative said that they do not have information on when the exam will change.

Since the rating systems won’t be balloted until summer 2013, you certainly have at least a few months before they change, and some believe it won’t change until 2014. If you want to safely take the exams before a potential update, though, I would aim to do it by the summer.

In the meantime, you can follow GBCI’s news and announcement page, or Poplar News, which will certainly report as soon as we learn new information.

How Will the Exams Change?

The truth is, GBCI has kept a lid on how exactly the LEED exams will change. Of course, the content on the exams will have to eventually change to include the v4 modifications, which are significant. However, whether or not the exam structure will be overhauled remains especially unclear.

Interestingly, GBCI has made some edits to the LEED Green Associate exam and Credential Maintenance Program (CMP) structure recently. In November 2012, the organization got rid of the eligibility requirements for the Green Associate exam, so essentially any professional with any background or level of experience can take the exam.

Similarly, GBCI’s CMP guide saw significant updates. The types of continuing education shrunk from eight to four, the green building categories for education were removed, and some of the rules regarding missing the deadline, etc., were clarified. Also, re-testing is no longer an option for credential maintenance - only continuing education.

The fact that these changes have been made leads me to believe that the general structure of the Green Associate and AP exams, plus the Credential Maintenance Program, will not see a major overhaul (though this is just a guess). I think the content of the exams, rather than the credentialing system itself, will change.

Legacy LEED APs No Longer?

Also, it’s important to note that USGBC has made a valiant effort to shift all legacy LEED APs without specialty to APs with specialty. They are offering a free 6-module online series that allows legacies to watch videos, then take quizzes. Once they complete all 6, they will have earned a specialty. There are rumors circulating that USGBC will invalidate these APs without specialty soon and somehow force them to either become an AP with specialty or lose their credential.

Of course, this is just a rumor and still remains to be seen - but if you’re a legacy LEED AP, I would call it a safe bet to pursue this (free!) program through USGBC and earn your specialty (in just 6 hours!). Once you finish, you’ll have to enroll in CMP (and pay $50 every two years...), but it’s a lot better than having to potentially retake all of the exams.

What Should I Do?

So, all of this begs the question: should you take the Green Associate and/or AP exam now or later? Like Maria said, it would probably be easier to take the exams now. There are going to be a lot of changes in v4, and when the exams change, there will probably be a period of exam prep companies running around like chickens with their heads cut off trying to figure out what is on the new exams. It’s not to say the new exams will be harder (though they very well could be), but at this point, you may want to consider taking the exam sooner rather than later. You can try a free LEED GA test here on Poplar Education.

If you don’t want to take the “easy way out” and want to learn about the LEED v4 rating systems, perhaps the best option would be to take the Green Associate exam now and wait for the LEED AP exam. The AP specialty exams really dig deep into a particular rating system, so by preparing for it, you will be able to learn all of the new nuances and practices in v4.

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