The need for environmentally conscious buildings is growing, and contractors with a proven record of sustainable practices will be positioned to meet the demand. But how do you know where to begin with gaining green building experience?
If you’ve been thinking about whether pursuing credentials would help grow your contracting career, discover the benefits of LEED accreditation and how to start the process.
What is LEED professional accreditation?
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC®), developed the most prominent green building certification program in the world, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED. Its purpose is to reduce negative environmental impacts of buildings and improve conditions that affect the health of building occupants.
Buildings and spaces can be certified as sustainable, while people can earn LEED accreditation showing their expertise in green building techniques and innovative practices.
Three benefits of LEED accreditation
Whether you build single-family residential buildings or high-rise commercial offices, sustainability credentials can help you grow your contracting career in several ways. Here are three of the benefits you could see in your business with LEED accreditation.
Bidding a wider variety of projects
USGBC reports that the green building market doubles every three years around the world. Contractors with LEED accreditation can align with this growing trend, while those without could miss opportunities to expand the projects they can bid on.
Particularly at the federal level, a lot of government agencies require building projects to be designed and constructed according to LEED specifications. In fact, the U.S. General Services Administration, or GSA, holds the LEED Gold building certification as the minimum requirement for new construction and largely renovated federally owned facilities. Credentials in green building open up new avenues for your business, giving you a competitive advantage.
Expanding your base with energy-conscious customers
LEED-certified buildings are appealing to investors, property managers, owners and tenants. Not only do sustainable buildings use less energy and water, which lowers costs for tenants, but they may also qualify for tax credits and rebates.
Earning accreditation and promoting your skills in green building provides your potential customers an added incentive to choose you and follow your guidance on how to make their structure more sustainable.
Increasing services with the latest green innovations
LEED members have exclusive access to information on the newest innovations in green building technology. You can keep your business up to date on the latest energy-saving building material, improving indoor air efficiency, reducing water use and even minimizing light pollution.
Your expertise won’t just help assure your customers that you can complete their projects according to the most rigid green building standards in the industry. You can also apply this knowledge to smaller projects, such as building healthier spaces with cleaner indoor air. LEED accreditation enables you to expand your service offerings to include solutions like indoor air quality (IAQ).
When you earn your LEED certification, you’ll be able to expand the services you offer to include high-demand IAQ solutions, helping you grow your business even more.
Types of LEED accreditation
There are three levels of LEED credentials. Because the final level requires at least a decade of experience in green building techniques, LEED recommends contractors build a foundation of knowledge by starting with Green Associate and continuing education.
LEED Green Associate
To earn the first level of accreditation, professionals must demonstrate general knowledge of LEED core concepts and that they can support the work of others on sustainable projects. The exam covers introductory topics about efficiency, sustainability, green buildings, materials, transportation and more. Green Associates must continue to learn with 15 hours of education every two years to maintain their accreditation.
The first level has no prerequisites and is a great way for contractors who haven’t previously worked on LEED projects to get started. But professionals who have deeper knowledge of these jobs, and who are leaning toward a specialty, may want to combine the Green Associate exam with the second level, LEED Accredited Professional with Specialty.
LEED Accredited Professional
To earn this level, contractors must be at least 18 years old as well as have the Green Associate credential, although it can be earned simultaneously with Accredited Professional (AP).
This accreditation level goes deeper into sustainable buildings and how they get certified through LEED rating systems. Contractors can specialize in the rating system they choose: Building Design + Construction, Operations + Maintenance, Interior Design + Construction, Neighborhood Development or Homes.
LEED APs must maintain this credential with 30 hours of continuing education every two years.
Once contractors have reached the LEED AP with specialty level, they can choose to work toward the Fellow accreditation. Because this is the highest recognition in LEED accreditation, there are more in-depth requirements. In order to apply for nomination, you must have earned the AP with specialty credential at least eight years prior and have worked with green buildings and LEED for at least 10 years, showing mastery in four of five elements.
How to get LEED certified as a contractor
When you’re ready to advance your business, the first step is to choose which accreditation level suits your green building experience. Then, the process for the first two levels is relatively straightforward:
- Create an account on USGBC and select the credential exam you’d like.
- Pay fees and register.
- Schedule the exam and study.
- Pass the multiple-choice exam.
When you’ve earned your credential, you’ll be able to share it digitally for your customers and connect with other LEED contractors to grow your network.
Complete green projects with Ferguson
Ferguson is the professional contractor’s source for products to help complete green building projects. Visit your local Ferguson for service from professionals who are committed to helping you and your business succeed.