The essential LEED Green Associate cheat sheet | U.S. Green Building Council
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The essential LEED Green Associate cheat sheet

Published on Written by Posted in LEED

You've decided to pursue the LEED Green Associate professional credential, but you aren't sure how to start preparing for the exam.

Review this cheat sheet for a description of exam content areas, which include task domains and knowledge domains.

  1. Task Domains reflect the tasks necessary to perform LEED safely and effectively. 
  2. Knowledge Domains reflect the rating systems’ credit categories and what one needs to know. 

Task Domains

  • Communicate broad and basic green building concepts to team or colleagues 
  • Research and create a library of sustainable building materials 
  • Assist others with sustainability goals 
  • Create project profiles/case studies/press releases
  • Serve as a green advocate to clients, team members and the general public (e.g. why green building) 
  • Stay current on any updates to LEED and green strategies in general 
  • Navigate LEED Online 
  • Assist project leaders with LEED correspondence to project team members (consultants, contractors, owner, etc.) 
  • Assist in managing the documentation process
  • Assist in managing the LEED certification timeline

Knowledge Domains

LEED Process (16 questions)

  • Organization fundamentals (e.g. role of USGBC/GBCI; mission/vision; non-profit)
  • Structure of LEED rating systems (e.g., credit categories, prerequisites, credits and/or Minimum Program Requirements for LEED certification)
  • Scope of each LEED rating system (e.g., rating system selection; rating system families: BD+C, ID+C, O+M, ND, Homes)
  • LEED development process (e.g., consensus based; stakeholder and volunteer involvement; rating system updates/evolution)
  • Credit categories (e.g., goals and objectives of each: LT, SS, WE, EA, MR, EQ, IN, RP; synergies)
  • Impact categories (e.g. What should a LEED project accomplish?)
  • LEED certification process (e.g. certification levels: Certified, Silver, Gold, Platinum; LEED Scorecard; 3rd party verification; role of documentation submission; LEED Interpretations; Addenda; awareness of different system versions [e.g., LEED Online])
  • Components of LEED Online and project registration
  • Other rating systems (e.g., in general what other rating systems are out there?)

Integrative Strategies (8 questions)

  • Integrative process (e.g., early analysis of the interrelationships among systems; systems thinking; charettes)
  • Integrative project team members (e.g., architect, engineer, landscape architect, civil engineer, contractor, facility manager, etc.)
  • Standards that support LEED (e.g., breadth not depth of American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Engineers [ASHRAE]; Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors National Association [SMACNA] guidelines; Green Seal, 
  • ENERGY STAR®, HERs, Reference Standards listed in ACPs, etc.)

Location and Transportation (7 questions)

  • Site selection (e.g. targeting sites in previously developed and brownfields/high-prioriy designation areas, avoiding sensitive habitats, located in areas with existing infrustructure and nearby users, reduction in parking footprint.

Sustainable Sites (7 questions)

  • Site assessment (e.g., environmental assessment, human impact)
  • Site design and development (e.g., construction activity pollution prevention; habitat conservation and restoration; exterior open space; rainwater management; exterior lighting; heat island reduction)

Water Efficiency (9 questions)

  • Outdoor water use (e.g., use of graywater/rainwater in irrigation; use of native and adaptive species)
  • Indoor water use (e.g., concepts of low flow/waterless fixtures; water-efficient appliances; types and quality)
  • Water performance management (e.g., measurement and monitoring) 


Energy and Atmosphere (10 questions)

  • Building loads (e.g., building components, space usage [private office; individual space; shared multi-occupant spaces])
  • Energy efficiency (e.g., basic concepts of design, operational energy efficiency, commissioning, energy auditing)
  • Alternative and renewable energy practices (e.g., demand response, renewable energy, green power, carbon offsets) 
  • Energy performance management (e.g., energy use measurement and monitoring; building automation controls/advanced energy metering; operations and management; benchmarking; ENERGY STAR) 
  • Environmental concerns (e.g., sources and energy resources; greenhouse gases; global warming potential; resource depletion; ozone depletion)

Materials and Resources (9 questions)

  • Reuse (e.g., building reuse, material reuse, interior reuse, furniture reuse)
  • Life-cycle impacts (e.g., concept of life-cycle assessment; material attributes; human and ecological health impacts; design for flexibility)
  • Waste (e.g., construction and demolition; maintenance and renovation; operations and ongoing; waste management plan)
  • Purchasing and declarations (e.g., purchasing policies and plans; environmental preferable purchasing (EPP); building product disclosure and optimization [i.e., raw materials sourcing; material ingredients; environmental product disclosure])

Indoor Environmental Quality (8 questions)

  • Indoor air quality (e.g., ventilation levels; tobacco smoke control; management of and improvements to indoor air quality; low-emitting materials; green cleaning)
  • Lighting (e.g., electric lighting quality, daylight)
  • Sound (e.g., acoustics)
  • Occupant comfort, health, and satisfaction (e.g., controllability of systems, thermal comfort design, quality of views, assessment/survey)

Project Surroundings and Public Outreach (11 questions)

  • Environmental impacts of the built environment (e.g. energy and resource use in conventional buildings; necessity of green buildings; environmental externalities; triple bottom line)
  • Codes (e.g., relationship between LEED and codes [building, plumbing, electrical, mechanical, fire protection]; green building codes) 
  • Values of sustainable design (e.g., energy savings over time; healthier occupants; money-saving incentives; costs [hard costs, soft costs]; life-cycle)
  • Regional design (e.g., regional green design and construction measures as appropriate, regional emphasis should be placed in Sustainable Sites and Materials & Resources)

Download the full LEED Green Associate Candidate Handbook to learn more

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Nora Knox

Digital Marketing Manager U.S. Green Building Council
USGBC Articles can be accessed in the USGBC app for iOS or Android on your iPhone, iPad or Android device.
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