How Do You Gain LEED Project Management Experience?

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One of the most challenging aspects of qualifying for the LEED AP exam is the LEED Project Experience prerequisite, but from firsthand experience, I know how important that LEED project management experience is…

When I work on LEED projects, there are usually some LEED APs in the office. These professionals knew how to memorize the information needed to pass the LEED AP 2.2 exam, but most of them had no practical experience working on an actual LEED project.

At first, I went to these LEED APs when I had LEED-related questions, but I quickly learned that being a LEED AP does not necessarily mean you know how to work on a LEED project. The LEED APs in the office weren’t able to answer the majority of my questions because they’d never actually worked on a registered LEED project.

As the only Project Manager in my office managing LEED projects, I decided to become the office “expert.” I delved into LEED Online and learned everything I could about the process, procedures, timelines, credit requirements, CIRs, assigning and managing team member roles, completing and submitting credit templates, asking GBCI questions about credits and procedures, leading LEED project team meetings, etc. (This is experience you only gain by working on a real LEED project. You can’t learn this stuff from a book.) Soon the LEED APs were coming to me for answers to their LEED questions.

Nothing can replace the knowledge you receive by actually working on a LEED project. (You can be book-smart, but you also need to be LEED project-smart.)

My LEED project management experience definitely helped me pass the LEED Green Associate Exam.

So what can you do to gain LEED Project Management Experience?

• Check with your local USGBC chapter and ask if any members know of projects that may need your help
• Go online to the various message boards and post an “I’m interested in working on your LEED project – at NO cost to you!” message
• Actively contact local contractors, architect and engineering firms. If you’re a Green Associate, explain to them that you’re a LEED Green Associate and that you’d love to help them out (at no cost to them) managing one of their LEED Projects. (Be sure and tell them that you’re willing to sign a non-disclosure agreement.)
• Get an internship. There is a company that allows you to join a real LEED project for an “internship” fee. With this program you attend team meetings on a working LEED registered project. This intensive one-day program is designed to give you the hands-on experience and the understanding you need to successfully navigate the LEED Certification Process – and gain the LEED project management experience you need to take the LEED AP exams. For more information on this program, visit PTL Exam Prep . When you get there, click on the “Training Link” to find out more about the LEED Project Management Experience training program.

Gaining LEED project management experience is not only important to taking and passing the LEED AP exam, it’s also vital to being a successful (and productive) LEED project team member.

Good luck!

Sherry, LEED Green Associate & LEED Project Manager

8 Comments

  1. Do you have to experience a LEED project from pre design Charrette phase to occupancy phase to receive prerequisite credit for LEED AP exam?

  2. No, you do not need to work on a LEED project from start to finish to meet the LEED AP exam prerequisite.

    For a variety of reasons, it’s not practical to require that a person work on a LEED project from the pre-design charrette phase to the occupancy phase before taking the LEED AP exam.

    Here are some of the reasons:

    • Some LEED projects can literally take years to complete
    • There are some team members — like subcontractors — that typically don’t get involved in a LEED project until construction
    • You may work on a portion of a LEED project, but your services may not be required for the entire project
    • You may have been hired during the middle or end of a LEED project

    You do, however, need to show proof that you have worked on a LEED project. When I applied to take the LEED 2009 beta exam, I had to show proof that I worked on a LEED project. I sent a copy of the LEED Online Team Administration page that showed my name and project role, including the project number. I also got a written letter from my supervisor stating that I was working on LEED projects for the company’s largest client.

    Here’s what GBCI says about the perquisite requirements:

    Project Experience:
    For the LEED Green Associate credential, a person who provides support on a LEED Registered Project could be a person who aids or assists on a project by providing administrative or research tasks, managing templates, coordinating meetings, tracking consultants and/or contractors, or helping in compiling documentation for review. This list is not meant to be exhaustive, but is meant to provide guidance for candidates with their application.
    For the LEED AP credentials, to be personally involved with a LEED Registered Project means that the candidate can show how they have contributed to the registered project through active participation in it and have on-going responsibility through their participation. The candidate must show how they have been exposed to the LEED process and have knowledge of the project. The candidate can work in a variety of fashions that are linked to the project such as in an on-going, full-time role with the LEED Project team in multiple phases of the project including managing or leading the project design or construction team, or facility management teams by providing installation, supervision, auditing, consulting, managing or other leadership roles with the project team. This list is not meant to be exhaustive, but is meant to provide guidance for candidates with their application.
    http://www.gbci.org/DisplayPage.aspx?CMSPageID=195
    Good luck!

    Sherry

  3. I was included in the our on-going LEED projects to be able to prepare for my Green Associates Exam. Since I am new and never experienced how to work online LEED projects I don’t know how to proceed or start working in a project as a Designer when I was asked to proceed with documentation or review of one of the credits I was asked to do. Thanks for your help

  4. We offer LEED experience and an affiliate program at green work experience

  5. Hey everyone,

    I hear everyone is having a time finding project experience for the LEED AP (especially in this economy). If you are serious about getting your AP, there is a new program that just started to get the experience. Its called “HabitatPro” and essentially you are able to get education and training while working on a LEED certified house, giving you enough experience to sit for the AP. There is a reasonable tuition fee involved in participating.

    A colleague of mine co-founded this new company. Currently we are in CO, but are expanding rapidly. So if you are interested, we are in the process of determining and expanding to new cities to implement the program, and enough demand in your city may bring us to you next!

    If you are interested, contact me at: habitatpro.stephen@gmail.com and look at our website: http://www.gohabitatpro.com

    Good luck on your future endeavors and hope to see you soon 🙂

    ~Stephen

  6. If you need LEED project experience, you can build with Habitat for Humanity and qualify for the LEED Professional exams.

    HabitatPro is a comprehensive LEED Project Experience program designed to help professionals and students gain the now required experience on a LEED registered Habitat construction project.

    HabitatPro Px is an accessible LEED Project Experience program that facilitates the extraordinary opportunity to learn LEED by actually doing LEED—participants receive the rare chance to get personally involved with LEED registered Habitat project as they work to achieve access to the LEED Green Associate or LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP) exams.

    The program provides both theoretical and practical knowledge of the LEED certification systems. The educational experiences tie study material to real-world applications and offers an unparalleled opportunity for professionals seeking relevant, applicable green building experience. Upon completion of the program, participants will receive the required letter of attestation to sit for ANY of the LEED Professional exams. And above all, efforts contribute to the construction of fantastic high-performing homes for deserving local low-income families!

    To learn more about the program and to register for upcoming opportunities — please visit the HabitatPro website @ http://www.gohabitatpro.com.

  7. The difference between the GA exams and actual LEED projects is tremendous. The LEEDusers.com forums were great at explaining some of the questions I had. I would always say go out of your way to work on interesting projects.

  8. There’s a terifric amount of knowledge in this article!

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