Green Credentials

Recent studies by KPMG and Accenture demonstrate increasing corporate commitment to the concept of sustainability with CEOs viewing it as important or a business imperative.

Studies have shown that companies are increasingly committing to sustainability. For instance, in a 2010 study by Accenture, 93 percent of the 766 CEOs surveyed believed that sustainability will be “important” or “very important” to the future success of their company. Seventy-four percent of them said that the recession has led them to increase sustainability investments. According to the study, there has been significant growth in corporate commitment to sustainability since 2007. Additionally, a 2011 survey from KPMG International said that corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting has become an "imperative" for companies looking to save money and resources through sustainable practices.

This growing corporate concern for sustainability and the environment has led to more green jobs in CSR and increased sustainability budgets. For instance, in 2011, 29 high-profile companies, including Verizon, DuPont, Coca-Cola, Kellogg, and General Mills, had a Chief Sustainability Officer.

GreenBiz released its Salary Survey, which reported that the number of U.S. companies with sustainability budgets between $100,000 and $10 million increased a combined 11 points in 2011 from the previous year. Additionally, 86 percent of large organizations have a full-time sustainability professional on staff, while 75 percent have assigned an executive to those responsibilities. The report added that 48 percent of companies have between one in five staff members on "green teams," that are devoted exclusively to sustainability. Ultimately, the report aligns with other recent studies that show corporations are taking environmental concerns more seriously, and expanding their sustainability budget and green work force to address them.

Indeed, many schools and universities have responded to this growing trend in sustainable business practices by offering “Green MBA” programs for aspiring green professionals. More and more jobs are specifying the need for understanding of sustainability, or expertise in LEED and green buildings. Indeed, earning a business degree with an emphasis on sustainability or earning a green credential such as the LEED Green Associate or LEED Accredited Professional accreditation may increase job growth potential, flexibility and career stability.

The LEED Green Associate is an entry level credential that demonstrates fundamental knowledge of green building and LEED, while the LEED Accredited Professional is a credential that shows a deeper understanding of green buildings and also allows for the development of a specific expertise within a particular LEED rating system. Other distinguishing certificates within the green building sector include the LEED for Homes Green Rater certificate and the Green Classroom Professional certificate.

LEED Green Associate

The LEED Green Associate credential shows the holder’s deep understanding of the most current green building principles and practices, and indicates a clear commitment to professional growth in the field. To earn the LEED Green Associate credential, the professional must pass a two-hour, computer-based exam comprising 100 randomly delivered multiple-choice questions on the LEED certification process and green building principles and practices. LEED Green Associates must maintain 15 continuing education credit hours for every two-year reporting period.


The LEED AP credential affirms your advanced knowledge in green building as well as expertise in a particular LEED rating system. The LEED AP specialties are LEED AP Building Design + Construction, LEED AP Homes, LEED AP Interior Design + Construction, LEED AP Neighborhood Development, and LEED AP Operations + Maintenance.

To achieve the LEED Accredited Professional credential the test taker must pass a 4-hour, 200-question exam with a score of 170 out of 200 if he or she has not already passed the Green Associate exam. If you do not pass the Green Associate portion of the test during the four-hour period, you will not earn the LEED AP credential.

If you are interested in the LEED AP credential, you no longer need to fulfill LEED project experience, however, USGBC attempts to test project experience from within the exam itself. As such you may want to include LEED project experience in your LEED AP exam preparation process.

You must either currently be a LEED Green Associate or plan to take both exams back-to-back. A LEED AP must maintain 30 continuing education credit hours for every two-year reporting period.


The LEED AP BD+C credential shows a professional’s expertise in green building design and construction. Professionals with their LEED AP BD+C credential serve buildings in the commercial, residential, education, and healthcare sectors. The specialty denotes practical knowledge in the LEED for New Construction, LEED for Schools, and LEED for Core and Shell rating systems.


The LEED AP Homes credential is suited for those involved in the design and construction of healthy, durable homes that use fewer resources and produce less waste. LEED for Homes is the only rating system that requires construction and performance verification by on-site Green Raters.


The LEED AP ID+C shows a professional’s expertise in green building interior design and construction. Professional with their LEED AP ID+C credential serve buildings in the design, construction, and improvement of commercial interiors and tenant spaces that offer a healthy, sustainable, and productive work environment.


The LEED AP ND credential applies to individuals participating in the planning, design, and development of sustainable, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods. The specialty denotes practical knowledge in the LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system.
Urban planning is more important than ever. With increasing focus on reducing sprawl, the LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system emphasizes integrated planning, design, and development of sustainable, walkable communities connected to the surrounding habitats.


The LEED AP O+M credential distinguishes professionals implementing sustainable practices, improving performance, heightening efficiency, and reducing environmental impact in existing buildings through enhanced operations and maintenance. The specialty denotes practical knowledge in the LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance rating system.

LEED for Homes Green Rater

Green Raters provide in-the-field verification services at each and every LEED for Homes Project. To become a Green Rater, a professional must complete a two-part training, pass the Green Rater exam, and complete the Green Rater mentorship program with a LEED for Homes provider organization within 24 months of passing the exam. Once the mentorship is complete, a Green Rater must maintain his or her certificate by verifying a minimum of 2 projects for every two-year reporting period.

Green Classroom Professional

Green Classroom Professionals create healthier, higher performing and more environmentally friendly learning environments, and prepare students to lead a future built on sustainability. The certificate equips pre-K through 12th grade stakeholders and professionals with knowledge and skills to eliminate classroom hazards and implement enhancements. Under Green Classroom Professionals, classrooms become living laboratories, creating foundational awareness of greener lifestyles, energy savings, and environmental health in students and educators.

How to Sign Up for a LEED Exam

Signing up for the LEED AP exam is simple and very similar to signing up for the Green Associate exam. The main difference is that when you apply, you will need to supply proof that you have worked on a LEED project. The steps for signing up to take the LEED AP exam are:

  • Go to here
  • At the top of the screen indicate which exam you are interested in (eg. LEED Green Associate, LEED AP with Specialty, etc.)
  • Choose your language
  • Indicate whether you are full time student or have any special needs that must be accommodated
  • Click "continue"
  • Pay the fee ($200 for USGBC members, $100 for students and $250 for non-members)
  • Schedule your exam with Prometric at a testing center near you.
  • Study for and pass the exam!

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