LEED 2009 Credentialing: The Least You Need To Know

My friends over at Re:vision Architecture prepared this very handy guide to the credentialing changes in LEED 2009. Below is a helpful overview:

Benefits of the LEED Credentialing Program To:


  • Earn a marketable credential.
  • Listing in GBCI website directory of LEED Professionals.
  • Recognition for involvement in the LEED Certification process.


  • Become eligible for projects that mandate participation of a LEED AP.
  • Strengthen qualifications for responding to RFPs.
  • Encourage growth of knowledge and understanding of LEED Certification.


  • Encourage and promote a higher understanding of green building.
  • Support the transformation of the built environment.



LEED Green Associate Exam - Beta Test
LEED AP + Operations and Maintenance Exam - Beta Test

MARCH 2009

LEED AP + Homes Exam - Beta Test


LEED Green Associate Exam - Launch
LEED AP + Operations and Maintenance Exam - Launch
LEED AP + Design and Construction/Interior Design and Construction - Beta Test
New Candidate Application


LEED AP + Homes Exam - Launch
LEED AP + Design and Construction/Interior Design and Construction - Beta Test
New Credentialing Maintenance Program – Launch







Evoking both environmental protection and growth potential, the LEED Green Associate credential attests to demonstrated knowledge and skill in practicing green design, construction, and operations.

The LEED AP credential signifies an extraordinary depth of knowledge in green building practices and specialization in a particular field: commercial design and construction, commercial operations and maintenance, commercial interiors, residential design and construction, and neighborhood development.

LEED AP Fellows enter an elite class of leading professionals who are distinguished by their years of experience.

All current LEED APs may continue to bear the credential without taking any action.  You may still use the LEED AP title but you will no longer appear in the active LEED Professional directory as of June 2011 unless you gain active status (see below).

Eligibility Requirements

Agree to disciplinary policy and credential maintenance guidelines.

Demonstrate or document involvement in support of LEED projects.

Be employed in a sustainable field of work or engaged in an education program in green building principals and LEED.

Submit to application audit.

Agree to disciplinary policy and credential maintenance guidelines.

Demonstrate professional experience on at least one LEED project.

Document work on a LEED project, within the last two-three years, with verification through LEED Online or employer attestation.

Submit to application audit.

Major contribution to the standards of practice and body of knowledge for achieving continuous improvement in the green building field.

Signing disciplinary policy and agreeing to credential maintenance.

Obtaining The Credential

Application Process + Multiple Choice Assessment

Application Process + Multiple Choice Assessment

Peer review of project portfolio


Application Fee




USGBC National Member Exam Fee




Nonmember Exam Fee




Biennial Maintenance Fee




$50 (this fee will be waived for the first cycle for all legacy LEED APs who opt in between June 1, 2009 and June 30, 2011)

Biennial CMP Requirements

15 Hours (min 3 LEED specific)

30 Hours (min 6 LEED specific)


30 Hours (min 6 LEED specific)

LEED 2009--A Tweak or An Overhaul?

The USGBC membership approved the new version to the LEED rating system for high performance (“green”) buildings on November 18, 2008--LEED 2009. The rollout of LEED 2009 has been many months in the making, being originally released for comment in the spring, and for second public comment in August. The documentation for LEED 2009 is voluminous, comprising several .zip files available here.  


            The basic changes are as follows:

  • Credit “Harmonization and Alignment”—In short, all of the LEED Rating Systems will have common prerequisites and credits so that there are fewer conflicting components across rating systems. The Credit Interpretation Rulings have been similarly harmonized.
  • Predictable Development Cycle—LEED will be updated on a set schedule. Next time is in 2011.
  • Credit Weighting—A “scientific” tool was used to reweight the credits in the LEED system based on a life-cycle analysis. Now, the total number of points has increased from 69 to 100. Certified requires 40 points, Silver 50, Gold 60, Platinum 80. A breakdown of each category is as follows:


LEED 2.2

LEED 2009

Sustainable Sites



Water Efficiency



Energy & Atmosphere



Materials & Resources



Indoor Environmental Quality



The following notable changes were made to specific credits:

    • SS Credit 2: Development Density & Community Connectivity
      • Credit 2 went from being worth 1 point to being worth 5 points
      • If the project is mixed use, it may be considered one of the ten basic services that are required to be located within ½ mile, as long as the service is open to the public.
    • SS Credit 4.1: Alternative Transportation: Public Transportation Access
      • Credit 4.1 went from being worth 1 point to being worth 6 points
      • Walking distance is specified
    • SS Credit 4.3: Alternative Transportation: Low Emitting & Fuel Efficient Vehicles
      • Credit 4.3 went from being worth 1 point to being worth 3 points
      • Discounted parking is available as an alternative to preferred parking for fuel efficient vehicles
      • Vehicle sharing is a new option
    • SS Credit 4.4: Alternative Transportation: Parking Capacity
      • Credit 4.4 went from being worth 1 point to being worth 2 points
      • Discounted parking is available as an alternative to preferred parking for carpool/vanpool vehicles
      • An alternative track for mixed use buildings is specified
    • WE Prerequisite 1: Water Use Reduction: 20% Reduction
      • 20% reduction in water use is now mandatory
    • WE Credit 1.1: Water Efficient Landscaping: Reduce by 50%
      • Credit 1.1 went from 1 point to 2 points
      • Groundwater seepage is added as an alternative strategy
    • WE Credit 1.2: Water Efficient Landscaping: No Potable Water Use or No Irrigation
      • Credit 1.2 went from 1 point to 2 points
    • WE Credit 2: Innovative Wastewater Technologies
      • Credit 2 went from 1 point to 2 points
    • WE Credit 3: Water Use Reduction
      • Credit 3 is now worth 2-4 points for a 30-40% reduction in water usage
    • EA Prerequisite 2: Minimum Energy Performance
      • Specifies new compliance paths, including demonstrating a 10% improvement for new buildings or a 5% improvement for existing building renovations in the proposed building performance rating  compared to the baseline building performance rating per ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1-2007
    • EA Credit 1: Optimize Energy Performance
      • Credit 1 is now worth 1–19 Points (from 1-10 points in LEED 2.2)
      • 12% enhancement for new buildings is now the minimum, up from 10.5%
    • EA Credit 2: On-Site Renewable Energy
      • Credit 2 is now worth 1-7 points (from 1-3 points in LEED 2.2)
    • EA Credit 3: Enhanced Commissioning
      • Credit 3 went from 1 point to 2 points
    • EA Credit 4: Enhanced Refrigerant Management
      • Credit 4 went from 1 point to 2 points
    • EA Credit 5: Measurement & Verification
      • Credit 5 went from 1 point to 3 points
    • EA Credit 6: Green Power
      • Credit 6 went from 1 point to 2 points
    • MR Credit 1.1: Building Reuse: Maintain Existing Walls, Floors & Roof
      • Credit 1.1 went from 1 point to a range of 1-3 points for preserving 55%-95% of building components
    • EQ Prerequisite 1: Minimum IAQ Performance
      • Requirement is now ASHRAE 62.1-2007

            LEED 2009 has attempted to fix one of my major criticisms, that LEED does nothing to prevent “green sprawl”—green buildings built on unsustainable sites—first voiced here. Although there is still nothing to prevent a “green” big box store surrounded by acres of parking lot on the urban periphery from being LEED certified, the increases in points to the Sustainable Sites credits are an attempt to give more weight in the LEED system to green buildings built in mixed-use community settings linked by public transit. 



My friend and fellow Delaware Valley Green Building Council member Rob Diemer from AKF Engineering thinks that LEED 2009 changes the landscape regarding green building design.  According to him:

The affect of going to a 100 point scale with all the same credits and increasing certain credits over others definitely adds a bias toward addressing the building carbon footprint and water use.  In addition, the new reference standards are more stringent, particularly for water and energy, and therefore the impact of weighting is magnified.

We used to easily get 2 regular points and 1 ID point for reducing water use below the reference standard by more than  40% on WE Credit 3 by using low flow (not even waterless) urinals, regular 1.6 gpf toilets in the men's room, dual flush toilets in the women's room, low-flow shower heads and 0.5 gpm aerators on all the lavatory faucets.  When we analyze where the savings were being generated with the above approach we found that approximately half the savings, or a 20% reduction below the reference standard, were from the 0.5 gpm lavatory faucet aerators.  The reference standard allowed up to 2.2 gpm for these faucets so a change to 0.5 gpm was significant.  Trouble is the International Plumbing Code mandates 0.5 gpm for lavatory faucets in public rest rooms anyway so these savings were illusionary for many LEED buildings.
With the new rating system, this loop hole is closed - the International Plumbing Code is now a reference standard.  In addition, there is now a 20% water reduction prerequisite.  The strategies we have been using to get 3 points will now just barely allow us to meet the prerequisite.
On the energy side things have changed significantly as well.  The EA category was previously worth about 27% of the total base points (not counting ID).  Under LEED 2009 the EA category counts for 35%.  Coupled with Water Efficiency being increased to 10% and the increases to the transportation and urban site location credits, credits related to the building carbon footprint and water use now account for over half of the available points.  More importantly, relatively easy credits like low-VOC paint are still only worth 1 point but with a 100 point rating scale they have less importance toward any level of certification.
It will be almost impossible to get any level of certification without making meaningful attempts to reduce the building carbon footprint and water use.  I think that is significant as LEED certification at the Certified and Silver levels has become too easy.