From the Help Center: The 411 on maintaining your LEED professional credential | U.S. Green Building Council
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Posted in LEED

Congratulations! You’ve earned a LEED professional credential, demonstrating your expertise and leadership in the green building marketplace. As a LEED professional, you’re required to maintain your credential by earning continuing education (CE) hours. What are those, exactly?

At the USGBC Help Center, we’re here to help you understand what CEs are and why they matter. Below, you’ll find answers to commonly asked questions about credential maintenance for LEED professionals. 

We also encourage you to submit questions to the Help Center if you can’t find what you’re looking for and to refer to the CMP Guide for additional information.

What are continuing education or credential maintenance hours?

In the context of LEED credentialing, CE hours are what LEED professionals spend in credential maintenance activities. They are calculated based on the activity. 

If you’re a LEED AP, you must earn 30 CE hours every two years to maintain your credential. If you’re a LEED Green Associate, you must earn 15 CE hours every two years.

What are LEED-specific hours? 

Both LEED Green Associates and LEED APs require LEED-specific CE hours.

For LEED Green Associate, three of your required 15 CE hours must be LEED-specific. For LEED AP, six of your required 30 CE hours must be LEED-specific. For LEED AP with specialty, the six LEED-specific hours must directly relate to your specialty designation.

LEED-specific hours meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Process-related to LEED,
  • Credit- or-category-related, such as dealing with requirements intents or version comparisons,
  • An in-depth, technical LEED update,
  • An in-depth LEED project case study targeted toward a specific LEED credit,
  • A best practice lesson that entails successful or unsuccessful application of LEED, or
  • Showing benefits of using LEED (ROI, grants, taxes or incentives).

How do I self-report CE hours?

To self-report CMO activities, log into your Credentials account and select Report CE Hours. 

When does my continuing education reporting period begin and end?

You have two years to earn the CE hours. The reporting period begins on the exam or enrollment date and ends two years, minus one day, later.

What happens if I don’t complete my continuing education requirements?

If you don’t complete your CE requirements by the end of your reporting period, you lose your LEED professional status.

The only exception is if you’re a LEED AP who earned your credential before June 30, 2009. If you don’t meet CE requirements for your specialty, you lose your specialty and revert back to your status as a LEED AP without specialty. You never lose your LEED AP credential.

Learn more about credential maintenance

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Total 9 commentsLeave a comment

U.S. Department of State
As I move more into management and away from the hands-on implementation of LEED in a project it is becoming harder and harder to document my experience in a way that USGBC wants (USGBC is becoming more and more restrictive in what it considers valid CE experience). My role in my profession has changed and I am no longer added as a Project Team member in LEED Online.I provided quality assurance for many projects and review LEED submissions before it even gets to the project team. In my work as a Construction Manager I would never be added to LEED Online but my work in ensuring that our team implements LEED requirements is something I do daily. However I can't use any of this experience for my continuing education! I know that many senior project managers are also in this position. I will continue to pursue sustainable practices in my work but this is probably the end of my time as an accredited BD+C professional.
Senior Commissioning Engineer, AECOM
I keep up with my career development just fine, thank you. If I didn't, I wouldn't stay employable for very long, would I? The problem, as I see it, is that the USGBC imposes all of these continuing education requirements, and requires us re-up the specialty credentials every two years, with little to no financial incentive to maintain the credential. I keep current with the sustainability movement, as I have an active practice that requires me to keep my knowledge base current. I see other people with less knowledge of the LEED rating systems practicing in the field without credentials, and I wonder why I spend the money maintaining mine. If LEED is going to stay relevant, the USGBC needs to be more responsive to its constituency, all of it, not just the stars-in-their-eyes tree-huggers. There is a very good reason why LEED v4.0 is not being widely adopted. You raised the bar too high, too quickly, especially related to materials and to EQ, and now you are having trouble getting people to register projects under that version of the rating systems. I hope the organization is re-assessing its influence over the marketplace and is taking steps to address the misalignment. If I see evidence of that happening, I will consider sitting for the specialty crendentials once again. Otherwise I will not.
Membership, Credentialing, and Education Specialist, U.S. Green Building Council
Hi James, thank you for your feedback, USGBC takes credential holder and member feedback very seriously. I certainly did not mean to imply that you do not keep up with your career development (I apologize if that's how my response was received), but rather I wanted to provide reasoning for why credential holders, in general, would opt for one or more specialty credentials. I will make sure that your comments and feedback are received by our credentialing team. Please also let us know if you'd like to discuss further via email or phone. Thank you again for your comments! We appreciate you taking the time to provide detailed feedback.
Associate Project Manager for Architecture, LEED AP BD+C, O+M, ID+C, ND, HOMES | WELL AP | CDT | Green Classroom Professional, New York City Housing Authority
One issue of concern, is that when it comes to those, like myself, who hold HOMES and ND credentials, there isn't a large pool of LEED-specific courses in those specialties at present. This could eventually be a problem a couple of years down the road when it comes to renewing these credentials. If the amount of courses for these lesser-held specialties doesn't improve, I - and others - can be faced with not having any more courses to maintain our hard -earned LEED AP HOMES and ND certificates. Therefore, I'd like to suggest that USGBC look into providing more courses for these interesting, but perhaps somewhat overlooked credentials. I certainly wouldn't want to lose them! A second item I would like to bring up is that while taking general (non-AP-specific) courses, many of them certainly did apply to specific credits or processes, but were general GBCI credit only. Some of them were even more specific than the specific courses. I don't know why that is, but I think there are many general courses that can and should be re-classified as LEED AP-specific. Thank you for reading this, as well as considering my suggestions.
Membership, Credentialing, and Education Specialist, U.S. Green Building Council
Thank you for your comments Jeffrey. I can appreciate your concerns. Please do know that our education team is actively working to provide a variety of courses and CE hour opportunities. I will forward your comments on to our Education team. Thank you again and we appreciate your dedication and commitment to sustainability!
Senior Commissioning Engineer, AECOM
I am a legacy LEED AP, one who's previously held the O+M and BD+C credentials. I allowed both to lapse last year, because there is little to no incentive (other than peer recognition) to maintain what is one of the more expensive credentials I've held. I kept expecting the USGBC to start requiring LEED APs of a given specialty credential, dependent on the rating system and the particular prerequisites/credits, but it never happened. While I like the LEED rating systems and the improvements that the system has fostered in the build community, why should I spend money maintaining a credential that has little to no influence on my income?
Managing Principal, Earthly Ideas LLC
James - LEED v4 does have the requirement (LEED AP with appropriate specialty) for the LEED Accredited Professional credit in the Innovation category - http://www.usgbc.org/node/2613913?return=/credits. Projects must register under this version starting November 1, 2016.
Senior Commissioning Engineer, AECOM
Thank you, Michelle. That is s step forward. However, please see my earlier comments regarding v4.0. As much as I'd like to see our industry embrace this version of the rating systems, its uptake by even the early adopters, has been limited..
Membership, Credentialing, and Education Specialist, U.S. Green Building Council
Hi James, Thank you so much for your comment and question. Return on investment is a great question to ask yourself when determining your best course of action. For many the answer is clear, a LEED AP specialty benefits their career immensely, from both a financial and professional development aspect, and allows them to work within a specialty area that they are most passionate about. Maintaining a specialty credential also holds industry professionals accountable to staying on top of the most current and up to date information in the field. It can be seen as a personal commitment to their field of choice. A specialty credential does not make sense for everyone, however, and is of course based on each persons preference. Having a LEED AP is a great accomplishment in and of itself. If you are not receiving a salary increase from a Specialty AP, it sounds like you will need to weigh the importance of professional development and perhaps what you would like to contribute personally to the field and decide if either of those things nudge you in the direction of achieving a specialty or not. I hope that helps and I'm happy to consult more with you on this topic. Thanks!

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