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LEED AP vs. LEED AP+

26 Mar Posted by in LEED | 24 comments
LEED AP vs. LEED AP+
 

Now that all of the “old” LEED APs are in their “enrollment window”, I am getting a lot of questions about who should “opt-in” and become a LEED AP+  and who should keep their original LEED AP credential. To further complicate matters, if you choose to “opt-in” to the LEED AP+ credential, you have to choose whether you want to opt-in by taking one of the new LEED AP+ Specialty exams or by agreeing to a “prescriptive” continuing education requirement. Confused yet? If so, you are certainly not alone! To try to clarify things for the 75+ LEED APs in my firm, I put together a list of pros and cons of the three options. I am including this list below- maybe it will be helpful to you too!

1. You may do nothing and remain a LEED AP (without specialty)

Pros:

  • You would not have to comply with the new continuing education requirements of the LEED AP+ credential
  • You would not have to pay the new $50 credentialing maintenance fee (due once every two years)
  • You could still use the LEED AP designation on your business card, email signature etc…
  • If you choose to do nothing now, you could still change your mind and opt-in to the new AP+ designation any time within your two year enrollment window

Cons:

  • The industry MAY begin to see the LEED AP+ credential as the preferred credential

2. You may opt-in to the LEED AP+ specialty credential by taking a LEED AP+ exam

Pros:

  • You would not have to take the Green Associate exam, just a LEED AP+ specialty exam
  • You could choose which specialty exam is most applicable to your work (Building Design and Construction, Interior Design and Construction, Operations and Maintenance or Homes)
  • You would be a LEED AP+, the newest credential, which MAY begin to be seen by the industry as the preferred credential

Cons:

  • You would have to take a 100 question LEED AP+ specialty exam
  • You would have to complete 30 hours of continuing education units every two years (please see a note on continuing education units below)
  • You would have to pay a $50 credentialing maintenance fee every two years

3. You may opt-in to the LEED AP+ specialty credential by agreeing to a “prescriptive” education path

Pros:

  • You would not have to take any additional tests
  • You would be a LEED AP+, the newest credential, which MAY begin to be seen by the industry as the preferred credential
  • You would automatically become a LEED AP+ in the specialty that directly relates to the original version of the AP exam that you took- i.e. if you took the LEED NC test you would become a LEED AP+ BD+C. There may also be a way to opt into a different specialty, but this is still a bit of a gray area

Cons:

  • For your first credentialing maintenance period (the first two years) you would have to meet special, “prescriptive” education requirements. This means that a certain number of your education units would, for instance, have to be education about site factors, and others must be education about water, energy, LEED process, etc… (please see the note on continuing education below)
  • You would then be committing yourself to 30 units of continuing education for every two year period after you meet your prescriptive path. (please see the note on continuing education below)
  • You would have to pay a $50 credentialing maintenance fee every two years

*A Note on Continuing Education: The continuing education requirements (or Credentialing Maintenance Program as GBCI calls it) for the new LEED credentials is very complex and still really being developed. This means that is could be difficult to meet the continuing education requirements for at least the near future. Watch for an upcoming blog post on this topic!

  1. cheryl05-18-10

    Thank you for posting this information. You add some much needed clarity!

  2. Won07-06-10

    Thanks for the well organized posting.
    I have a question.

    I have a LEED AP without specialty and enrolled for BD+C.
    What if I fail to achieve the credential for BC+C within 2 years?
    My old LEED AP is still effective in perpetuity then?

    Thanks,
    Won.

  3. Allison McKenzie07-06-10

    Won- Yes! That’s the benefit of the old LEED AP. If you don’t meet your credential maintenance requirements for your BD+C specialty, you will just revert back to a plain “LEED AP”.

  4. Won07-08-10

    Thank you for the answer!

  5. Larry Pyle09-04-10

    Allison,

    Thanks for the very informative posting!

    Regarding the “prescriptive education” path for maintaining LEED AP+ acreditation, and in light of my other professional continuous education requirements, I have a question:

    Presently I am required to earn 24 Learning Units (LUs) every two years to maintain my Ohio architectural registration. Also in a two-year period, I’m required to earn 36 units (18 per year) to maintain my AIA membership. Now for the new LEED AP+ acreditation I’ll be required to earn 30 units every two years.

    So ideally, I would EXPECT that of the 36 units I’m required to earn every two years toward AIA membership renewal, 24 of the 36 could concurrently apply toward state registration renewal, and 30 of the 36 could concurrently apply toward my LEED acreditation renewal. Of course I would have to select my CE courses with this outcome in mind.

    Question: Allison, do you think that this expection is realistic?

    Larry

  6. Allison McKenzie09-04-10

    Larry- while some continuing education credits may qualify for both your architectural continuing education requirement and your LEED continuing education, I would not expect all to be transferable. The LEED credential maintenance program (CMP) is quite complex with 8 possible “delivery methods” such as self-study, participation on a LEED project and approved courses. Many of the delivery methods have caps on how many units you can earn in that method, so you will likely end up needing to specifically select CMP approved courses which are still a little hard to come by (and often costly). While you will likely be able to use any CMP approved courses for your AIA requirement though self reporting, you will likely only be able to use a few of your AIA approved courses for your LEED requirement unless they are also CMP approved. Here’s a link to the CMP guide which may be helpful:

  7. Amy Drinnon, LEED AP09-10-10

    Thank you so very much for your time and information. I feel confident in your ability to explain and understand the requirements that are hard to so many of us to understand. Thanks again and I look forward to updated posts.

    Amy

  8. Ross Timm01-20-11

    I think so many people who are in leadership positions at the USGBC, and on the development committess, are legacy APs that they maybe do not see the fundamental ill-logic and unfairness of the new and very time consuming, potentially expensive, and confusing CE requirement. Either that, or they cynically see the money making and sponsorship opportunities behind CE, and now that being a LEED AP has grown akin to being “AIA”- that is as a resume pad and foot in the door, they know that people will pay to play (i.e pay extra and extra for CE in addition to the yearly membership dues).. If they truly believed in the need for CE as a learning device then how could they justify not requiring legacy AP to do the same. I would argue that somebody who tested back in V1.0 would certainly have a lot more to relearn, even assuming they have worked on any LEED projects since then. I also do not believe the AP+ designation will ever mean any thing of value versus just AP, so that argument for legacy APs to switch does not seem valid. On a side note- that would be two interesting 3rd party studyies- what % of LEED APs ever work on a LEED project in a primary role and/or as the LEED project administrator, and what % of legacy APs are switching. I am guessing the % is extremely low for both.

  9. Shawn Lee04-22-11

    I completely agree with Timm’s posting. This new system USGBC is creating does not make any sense and everyone know they drag this stuff into the system to create their profit rather than acturally helping anything for green emvironmental.

  10. Wander Land05-12-11

    I am in LEED AP BD+C and I have to say the USGBC guys are too greedy for money a level which could kill the LEED bye themselve, like what happened in Wall Street three years ago. Not disregarding LEED credentials, but in no means it can compare with Registered Architects or Professional Engineer licenses. All LEED stuffs are only just best practices… My only feeling throughtout the LEED certifications is Money, money, and money, that’s all.

  11. Allen05-20-11

    I am a Legacy AP and i have just completed my 30 hours of prescriptive CE for my AP+EBOM designation. I am wondering whether I should even download my information to activate my new title. The courses wre rather expensive at $700+ and it would be a big expense to do that every 2 years

  12. Allison McKenzie05-23-11

    Allen- Have you already “opted-in” to the LEED AP+ system? I ask because your opt-in date has to be before the dates of your continuing education, so I am hoping that you already opted-in or else you would have to re-do all that continuing education. If you did opt-in then you are already enrolled in the LEED AP+ system whether you download the logos and everything or not. The real positive, though, is that if at any time in the future you decide not to continue doing the continuing ed. or paying the $50 fee, you will just revert back to your original LEED AP credential- they won’t take that away from you.

  13. Allen05-27-11

    Thanks Allison, Yes I did opt in and I am already registered with GBCI as both LEED AP and LEED AP + O & M. I do know that if I do not wish to renew my specialty that I will still be a Legacy AP.

  14. DEEPAK KUMAR GUPTA10-30-11

    My understanding is that once you opt in the new leed credential system for example LEED AP BD+C, then you have to complete CMP & pay $50 fee every two years for using leed title. There is not an option of reverting back to legacy AP once you opt in. You loose this title if you do not complete CMP.

  15. Allison McKenzie11-01-11

    Deepak- it is true that once you opt-in from a LEED AP to one of the LEED AP with specialty credentials that you are committing yourself to a $50 fee and 30 hours of continuing education every two years to maintain the LEED AP with specialty credential. However, my understanding, from talking to several representatives of GBCI is that if you do not meet the continuing education requirement you will simply revert back to your original LEED AP credential, not lose everything. I wish that I could find this officially in writing somewhere, but that is the interpretation I have been given during several conversations.

  16. Susan Maclean11-05-11

    I have seen discussions about opting in versus not. My question is – what are the ramifications if you don’t achieve the 30 CE hours within the 2-year CMP timeframe? I have achieved roughly 10 CE hours and am trying to pursue the remaining online but am not sure they will qualify and my CMP period ends this month.

    Does this mean I lose the BD+C designation and revert back to LEED AP? Do I lose LEED AP status altogether? Could I retest using Green Associate and the BD+C specialty examinations to earn it back? I am seriously disappointed in the lack of information put forth by USGBC. These requirements are new, confusing and change almost every year. I really would like your opinion on what could happen if you fail to achieve 30 CE hours within the CMP timeframe. Thanks!

  17. Allison McKenzie11-05-11

    Susan- I have never seen this in writing, but I have been told by multiple GBCI employees that if you do not satisfy the continuing education path that you revert back to your original LEED AP, you do not lose it entirely. If you wanted to regain the LEED AP BD+C you would have to take both the Green Associate and BD+C exams either in one sitting or separately. Good luck!

  18. AL12-05-11

    Just found this on the USGBC website. Seems to be the very confirmation we are all looking for in writing:

    https://www.usgbc.org/FAQConsolidation/FAQ_Detail.aspx?Id=Q50140000000EblRAAS

  19. Sue12-08-11

    Allison,
    I emailed GBCI in Nov 2011 to ask if I automatically revert back to LEED AP if I do not submit CE hours online (I am a legacy LEED AP who opted in to LEED AP+ in Dec 2009). I pasted their reply at the bottom, which I think shows that you are correct- legacy LEED APs who opted in to LEED AP+ but do not meet CE reqmts, do revert back to LEED AP. I’d feel a lot better if they had specifically said, “you don’t need to do anything”. I just don’t want to find out later that there was some check box on some obscure page of their byzantine website that I was supposed to click to state my intent to revert back :) I have not had very good experiences with trying to get answers from GBCI both online or by phone. Many of their links don’t work, they email me outdated material (including the link in their reply below!), and I am presently unable to log in to my account as their system is “under extremely heavy load. Please try back at a later time!”. Quite frustrating! I plan to call GBCI tomorrow as they have not answered follow up questions via email, but am not holding out hope that that will be any more productive than my past efforts. Here’s what my reply email from GBCI said:
    “Each LEED Professional is responsible for demonstrating full compliance with CMP requirements. Failure to fulfill and/or report the required CE hours for the CMP reporting period will result in expiration of the LEED Green Associate or the LEED AP with specialty credential. However, the LEED AP without specialty credential is held in perpetuity and does not have any credential maintenance requirements or fees. You would revert back to a LEED AP without a specialization if you were to fail to meet the maintenance requirements for the specialty credential. Please note, to regain a credential after expiration, one must apply, register, and retest as a new candidate. Such individuals are responsible for all applicable fees.

    However, we strongly discourage LEED professionals from allowing their specialty credential to expire. The reason is because USGBC’s LEED Rating System is currently in its next development cycle, a regular cycle that allows the rating system to continually evolve in response to the market’s needs. The draft that is currently under public comment includes a proposed update to the Innovation in Design (ID) credit that could affect how projects earn points for including a LEED AP on the project team. Any changes to the ID credit would not go into effect until the new version of LEED is released for project use (anticipated to be in 2012) and will not be retroactive. To view the proposed change, learn more about USGBC’s process for revisions to the rating system or to make a comment on the draft, please visit http://www.usgbc.org/LEED/LEEDDrafts/RatingSystemVersions.aspx?CMSPageID=1458. All comments will be reviewed and responded to by USGBC. We encourage individuals and organizations with feedback on the proposed changes to submit them through the comment process.”

  20. Mark06-04-12

    I am currently working towards obtaining the 30 ce hours for LEED AP BD+C. I’ve been asked by my Principal what ramifications wouild occur towards him if he does not seek specialty. Is there anything that he can no longer do such as being an administrator? Opeining up a new project?

  21. Allison McKenzie06-05-12

    Mark- I do not foresee LEED ever requiring a LEEd credential of any type to work on a LEED project or even to be project administrator. There is proposed language that would require the LEED AP with specialty credential instead of the old LEED AP credential in order to receive the credit for LEED AP participation in the Innovation and Design category. So, in the future, he may not be able to claim that one point, but that is the only thing I can see not acquiring the newer credential would prevent him from doing and it hasn’t even officially happened yet.

  22. Carla10-31-12

    I’m currently LEED AP and enrolled in BD + C byt the prescriptive education path. I have until May next year to fulfill those credits. I’m confused in whether I could use the “BD + C” at this moment or if I have to wait until I get a certification to start using that. Could you please clarify on that? Thank you.

  23. Allison McKenzie10-31-12

    Carla- you do not need to wait until you have fulfilled your prescriptive CEU requirements- you can call yourself a LEED AP BD+C as soon as you “opt-in”, so go ahead and use it!

  24. Preet12-12-13

    I am not sure if this is still needed to clarify a few things but here is what the FAQ show about whether you lose everything all together if you opt-in and then can not meet the continuing education requirements.

    http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja&ved=0CDUQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.cagbc.org%2FAM%2FPDF%2FFAQ%2520June%25202011_En_FINAL.pdf&ei=YDmqUoSHE4rxoATE64CoAg&usg=AFQjCNHn0f5fYRSBou-Fczrg7VLxN4D4IQ&sig2=SfUekX6Kx0_6EPmAV-4J6Q&bvm=bv.57967247,d.cGU

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