USGBC LEED Study Guide Review — Are They Worth the Price?

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I was excited — and a little skeptical — when I found out that the USGBC was publishing their own LEED exam study guides. Was this the Holy Grail for preparing for the LEED exams? Information straight from the horse’s mouth, these guides must be filled with solid, must-know information; explanations for the areas that I struggle to understand; sample practice questions that will really get my brain going and give me a feel for what the questions will be like on the actual exam — was I expecting too much?

Well, I decided to give the USGBC even more of my money and ordered the Green Building LEED Core Concepts book, the USGBC LEED Green Associate and LEED AP BD+C Study Guides.

After excitedly opening the package, I quickly surveyed my purchase. What did I think?

Today I’ll give you my thoughts on the LEED BD+C Study Guide — more about the other LEED Study Guides later.

A manageable 240 pages (a big improvement over trying to study with the monstrous LEED 2009 Reference Guide), the USGBC LEED BD+C Study Guide has concise, valuable information. (The key word, though, is concise.)

The LEED AP BD+C Study Guide starts with a standard BD+C overview, green building design and construction info, and then goes into the individual credit categories and credits.

For those of you who are exam-phobic, you’ll find study and exam-day tips helpful. My favorites are:

  • Don’t let the more difficult questions raise your anxiety and steal your valuable time. Move on and find success with other questions.
  • The answer that comes to mind first is often correct.
  • For multiple choice questions, formulate your own answer before reading the options – look away from the question and see whether you can answer it without looking at the choices.
  • Each credit category is broken out into the following:

  • Overview of category
  • Synergies
  • Category highlights
  • A list of the available credits
  • Key terms
  • For each credit, there is a two-page overview (see what I mean about concise?) of the credit intent, requirements, implementation and documentation/calculations for each credit.

    Within these two pages, you also get a list of key terms, related credits, a timeline with responsible team member(s) and standards.

    After each category there are a few short category review fill-in-the-blank questions, “learning” activities (which are kind of pointless unless you have access to endless resources), and only FIVE multiple choice practice questions. Only five practice questions for each credit category? I think this was the biggest disappointment about the whole study guide. Study Guides should be chock full of practice questions, shouldn‘t they? (Do you remember me saying that this study guide is concise?)

    In the back of the LEED BD+C Study Guide you’ll find a helpful list of acronyms and organizations, and exemplary performance matrix, reference standard table (2003 EPA Construction General Permit, ASTM E1527-05, ANSI/ASHRAE/IENSA, etc.) and sample LEED Online scorecard.

    The bulk of the “study guide” contains the same information you can find in the FREE USGBC BD+C “summary” guide So is it really worth the price?

    Overall I think the information in the USGBC LEED BD+C Studfy Guide is valuable, but don’t expect to master LEED by using just this study guide. You will want to supplement this LEED study guide with the USGBC 2009 Reference Guide as well as some other study materials, like real-world practice questions.

    Next I’ll talk about the USGBC LEED Core Concepts book. Stay tuned…

    One Comment

    1. I came up with a cheat sheet to help me remember LEED BD+C see link

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