Verity Frizzell, AIA, LEED AP – 2011 AIA-NJ COTE Chair
Many AIA NJ members took advantage of the LEED Study Groups offered by AIA NJ the past couple of years, and successfully became LEED Accredited Professionals. For those of you who became LEED APs before the exam format changed in June 2009, you have been given the option of enrolling in the LEED AP with specialty designation. There are two options for enrolling. Along with agreeing to the Credential Maintenance Program and Disciplinary Policy, Option 1 includes taking an exam, Option 2 involves Prescriptive Credential Maintenance. The window for enrolling will be closing soon, and may have already closed for some. (To find out what is your particular deadline, go to GBCI.org on the MyCredentials tab. It will show you on that page by when you must enroll.) But what does all this mean? Do you have to do this? What happens if you don’t? I will attempt to make sense of it all…
Enrollment in the LEED AP + specialty program is entirely optional. You can choose to stay exactly as you are – a LEED AP. You will never lose this credential, and must do nothing to maintain it. Even if you opt in, you will always have this designation, as well as any additional specialty designations.
For the purposes of this discussion, I will assume that most AIA members who already are a LEED AP would rather enroll without taking another test; therefore I will talk about Option 2. If you decide to enroll, you must complete 30 CE hours of Prescriptive Credential Maintenance (PCM) in the first reporting period. Your first reporting period will commence on the day you enroll in the specialty credential and end two years minus one day from that date. (There is no provision for reporting courses completed prior to your enrollment date.) PCM is very specific, and requires you to complete a certain number of hours in each LEED category. The number of hours varies depending on whether you choose the BD+C, ID+C, or O+M specialty. That information can be found on the GBCI.org website in the Credential Maintenance Program Guide Appendix E. After the first reporting period, there is a $50 fee every 2 years, and you must complete 30 CE hours every two years in any category. Also, GBCI credits are self-reported, so you must get some kind of transcript or certificate for your records for reporting purposes.
There is a financial advantage to enrolling under the prescriptive path (Option 2) in that there is no fee for the first reporting period. Option 1 requires testing, which can be expensive: $100 application fee, $150 test fee for USGBC members, $250 test fee for non USGBC members. CE hours can be expensive as well, but that would be an equal expense for both options. If you decide to enroll after the enrollment window closes, your only option is to take both parts of the exam, which will double your expenses (and the risk of not passing the exam).
So why enroll? You will differentiate yourself from your peers by demonstrating expertise in a particular field. Credential maintenance keeps you up-to-date with the rapidly changing green market. If your practice involves LEED projects, enrollment is a no-brainer. If not, you should weigh the financial and time considerations of having to complete an additional 15 CE hours every year. It should be noted that not all AIA courses are approved for GBCI hours. By the way, if you decide to enroll and fail to complete the CE hours, you will lose the specialty designation, but not the LEED AP without specialty credential.
You can also enroll in Option 2 under your original exam, and add specialty designations in other categories by testing and maintaining each credential (30 CE hours for the primary specialty and 6 additional hours for each additional specialty every 2 years). There are other options for multiple specialties, but that is beyond the scope of this article. Please refer to the Credential Maintenance Program Guide on the GBCI.org website for more information.
Should you have any further questions regarding this, or any other subject related to sustainability or sustainable design, please feel free to contact the AIA New Jersey Committee on the Environment (COTE) at: [email protected]