Are you a building professional who wants to ride the increasingly large sustainability wave? Well becoming a LEED Accredited Professional is a lot easier than you think! Passing the LEED exam will make your self look that much better, not only on paper, but also in practical terms.

Ever since the United States Green Building Council appeared, people have been becoming more and more serious about building green. The USGBC created a rating system to help set industry standard levels of green building. Green buildings are appearing everywhere. Many owners know the benefits of building green and require that the architects achieve certain LEED ratings. Some counties and cities are requiring that all buildings over a certain size threshold be LEED certified. Many public projects are also incorporating LEED into their buildings.

There is no question that if you want to survive in this industry, you are going to have to go green. With energy prices on the rise, fossil fuels becoming more and more scarce, and the earth’s natural resources being slowly finished off, you better go green or go home. This world won’t be able to sustain itself unless there is a huge push to go green.

The LEED Rating system might be a little overwhelming at first glance, but once you start digging into it, you realize it is not as difficult as you had imagined. I passed the LEED exam over a year ago, and I didn’t really start studying until one week prior to the exam. When I started studying, I didn’t think I would stand a chance. There were so many credits and just so much to learn about every single one that I didn’t think it would be possible to retain enough information to pass. After spending a lot of time in a panicked state of overwhelm, I organized my studying approach, and was able to pass the test without breaking a sweat.

The first thing that you do when you start studying, is obviously begin by reading the LEED manual. I tried to start by the darn thing page by page. That really didn’t work. After reading a few credits, I was so overloaded with information, I figured the test would be impossible. I decided to change my approach. I went ahead and tried to memorize all of the 50+ credits. The only thing I needed to memorize was what the goal of the credit was, and if not that, at least the name. The intent of the credits are pretty straight forward; they make logical sense and you can understand what the point of the credit is without having to think too much. In no time, I was able to list every single credit from memory. It helps to break them down into the six sections (sustainable sites, water efficiency, etc).

Once you lay the foundation down, it is time to dig into each credit. A lot of the time, there is more info than you need to know in the reference manual. Just try to get a good understanding of how each credit works. You will notice that each credit is explained in a similar way (intent, approach, references, calculations, etc). It really helped me to set up a spreadsheet summarizing everything about each credit. I chose a small font, printed mine out on a few sheets of paper and carried it everywhere I went.

When you get into the exam room, you are given a few sheets of paper and put in front of a computer. You get two hours from the time you click “ok” on the computer. Before I touched the computer, I went ahead and wrote down all the credits on my scratch paper. Even though I already memorized them, I referenced this sheet a whole lot during the exam.

Go through and choose the best answers to each question. Your gut instinct is usually right, so go with your first intuition. Make sure to skip any questions you are unsure of; there is a feature on the computer that allows you to go over any skipped or flagged questions. Use the entire two hours, and submit just before the deadline. You will find out if you passed or not about 20 seconds after you submit!

Best of luck on your Leed Exam!