What LEED means to me and how I achieved accreditation

BHP Billiton Global Headquarters , Geyer, 2015

Ever since discovering LEED under the US Green Building Council, I knew I had found my place in the interior design world. If you’re apart of the sustainable building arts community, chances are you’ve heard of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design before. It is organizations like this that actively motivate me to continue focus on doing what I love, and trusting my heart is in the right place. I recently decided to get a head start in my career and work to receive this accreditation. Even if LEED is completely new to you, I’d love to share my experience with this program and how I achieved my Green Associate accreditation. (Please note: This post is not endorsed in any way! All opinions are my own.)

So.. What is LEED?

LEED is a green rating system aimed at distinguishing high performing buildings. In other words, they help recognize efforts that us sustainable bloggers try to embody everyday. Minimal effort will not get you far here! Your registered building must excel in these areas:

Why choose USGBC?

Now there are A TON of third party certifications available off a long list filled with some nobody has even heard of. So what made me decide to move forward with LEED? While they are one of the largest rating systems globally, the biggest draw to LEED for myself, is their whole-building approach. With traditionally built structures, all aspects of building design are bid out to separate companies with little to no intercommunication. During the LEED process, design decisions are discussed by team leaders from all departments for a more united strategy. This allows for increased energy and monetary savings, as every system is designed with the other in mind. In example, the HVAC technician can select the most suitable system based on a discussion with the leading architect regarding building orientation and window treatments. These design decisions are all solidified much earlier than traditional processes, catching more issues before construction; thus reducing change orders and ultimately decreasing waste!

Google Tel Aviv Office, Camenzind Evolution, 2013

How I became a Green Associate

I chose to investigate LEED fairly early in my career, considering I am still a design student. I saw the long list of professionals with LEED titles and assumed this was a credential still out of reach. But, of course, this is not the case at all! Truly anyone is eligible, though minors would require guardian consent. While it is possible to take the exam outright, I decided to invest the extra money to take an online exam prep course prior to sitting for my green associate exam. I completed my self-guided course through Everblue Training. My plan of study included pre-recorded lectures from their online seminars on each topic, as well as a multitude of practice quizzes, exams and study guides. I personally found this approach to be well worth my dollar. Not only could I review the information as my busy schedule allowed, but I was truly over-prepared and had no issue passing my exam. My main word of advice- don’t stress over the specifics of it all! You’ll be surprised how easy it is to recall the necessary information. When it came time to scheduling my exam, it was an easy process through the pro metric website. They located multiple testing centers near my location and had many dates and times available. To my relief, they even offered a considerable discount to students, making it much more desirable to strive for this title so early on. Whether you are considering becoming an associate or just now learning of LEED, I highly recommend it as an achievable accreditation to someone at any level- professionally practicing or not.

If you’re here looking for more particular tips on how to prep for your upcoming exam, email me anytime! I’d be happy to hear about your LEED journey and support a future associate 🙂

Happy studying,


203 thoughts on “My Green Associate Journey

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