Heather Benjamin
3 minute read

A LEED AP shares how she stays competitive in the industry.

LEED project managers work hard every day to help their clients attain certification. In coordinating the various elements of LEED projects, advising their teams and submitting final documentation, they steer potential green buildings into realized, LEED-certified achievements. By doing so, they also further global environmental goals through the built environment.

Using technical expertise to advance LEED

With backgrounds in many aspects of building, design and construction as well as sustainability, LEED project managers have a lot to draw on when working with clients. Mercedes Oviedo, LEED AP BD+C and ID+C, project manager and LEED consultant at e4, inc. in New York City, is a case in point: She has academic degrees in both architecture and engineering, which she puts to good use in advising clients on certification.

Her expertise provides "the necessary background knowledge and foundation to understand the processes, challenges, timeline and details involved in a project from beginning to end," says Oviedo. "The technical knowledge in LEED adds to this, which then allows me to find a cost-effective way by setting sustainability goals early in design and integrating sustainable solutions throughout the project’s life cycle."

Staying organized to solve problems

"Challenges appear all the time and in every project, in different stages and different order of magnitudes," says Oviedo. She approaches issues by leveraging her team's expertise as well as her own. "As a sustainability project manager, I’ve learned to overcome challenges by drawing in the opinions and options from multiple perspectives, breaking the options down into smaller concepts and utilizing non-industry jargon—it creates an opportunity for the client to make fully informed decisions," she explains.

Mercedes Oviedo leads a team planning meeting

LEED AP Mercedes Oviedo (center) meets with two sustainability analysts on her team at e4, inc.: Priyanka Jinsiwale (left) and Jorge Mora (right). Photo credit: Alia’a Harun.

Leading in the industry

The key to staying competitive in the industry is "a combination of motivation, knowledge and project experience," Oviedo shares.

Having volunteered for several committees over the years, such as the LEED International Roundtable and Green Building Council España’s Department of Research and Development, Oviedo has been able to influence the development of green building certification systems.

"This allows me to bring in my know-how, along with the vision of an organization that wishes to push the market or drive us to a better built environment," she says. "I am a strong believer that with the right guidance, we can all contribute to environmentally friendly buildings, and I look forward to joining more teams in the near future."

Staying up to date with continuous improvement

Sustainability standards and green building certifications are always changing and improving. How is a LEED project manager to stay on top of all the updates?

Over the years, Oviedo has gained accreditation in various certification systems. She attributes her diligence to both her own motivation to pursue the accreditations and the market demand for such knowledge.

"Updated certification and standards are living proof that we have reached our goals and that we are ready to set new goals—or maybe even a recognition that something doesn’t work, which is not a bad thing," says Oviedo. "On the contrary, we have the opportunity to revise and make it better."

She acknowledges that it is challenging to always be fully up to date, but it also represents an opportunity to find ways to apply new technologies in LEED projects. "A simple way my team and I stay up to date is by making time to participate in program webinars or conferences and reviewing the latest literature provided by certification program providers," she offers. 

Resources from USGBC

Maintain your expertise in LEED

Looking for ways to stay up to date? Technical updates and addenda to LEED are shared on our website every quarter. Also, a subscription to the Education @USGBC platform gives you access to hundreds of potential continuing education credits, as well as the LEED Web-based Reference Guide.

Here are a few examples of other top education content:

Is your usgbc.org profile current? Check your bio and badges to make sure your expertise displays correctly to future clients. Also, take a look at your email subscriptions to ensure you are receiving all the important LEED updates as they happen.

Find LEED project support

Navigating project management and submittals is a big job, but USGBC has you covered. Everything you need to track progress and find documentation is in LEED Online, but here are some other articles and resources to help you with your LEED projects:

Widen your network at local events

  • If you're looking to meet more green building professionals, consider joining your local community for opportunities to lead workshops, attend events and increase project visibility.
  • In the summer every year, you can apply to join one of our seven LEED Technical Advisory Groups to have a voice in the development of LEED.
  • Have you considered turning your hand to reviewing LEED applications or updating credentialing exams? LEED reviewers are a dedicated cadre who apply rigorous standards to evaluating project applications.

Find the sessions you need at Greenbuild Atlanta

Pre-show workshops and education sessions at Greenbuild Atlanta present many options for increasing your LEED knowledge and staying on top of what's new, like LEED v4.1 and LEED Zero.

Plus, you can earn up to 27 GBCI and AIA continuing education credits to maintain your credentials. Choose among 14 tracks, search by keyword, or sort by rating system or learning level to find the content that best fits your needs. View the full session list.

Sort Greenbuild sessions by rating system

You can sort Greenbuild sessions by your LEED specialty credential to maximize CE credit.

Explore Education @USGBC resources