Anybody can become a LEED AP.
All you have to do is register, study, take(/write) the exam and pass it.
You do not need to study at an accredited institution of higher learning for +5 years to obtain a professional degree or even more for a Masters degree. There is no requirement for licensing nor is it regulated by the state.
There are no building codes that a LEED AP needs to know.
No requirement that you pass a series of licensing exams and document your proffesional experience prior to obtaining your license, which is regulated by the state.
You don't need to study sustainable design concepts in college and then apply or test theories in the field by actually designing real buildings. Or spend years studying existing building designs and concepts as applied to different climates. You just need to study the LEED reference manual and pass the exam.
All of a sudden you are an expert on sustainability.
A high school student can take the exam, pass it and become a LEED accredited professional. A professional!!!
According to the USGBC there are now over 75,000 LEED APs in the country.
There are businesses that have been set up to provide LEED administration consulting services. Most of them only require that their employees be LEED AP. These same firms will proffer advice on how your building project should be designed and built. Lately you will find countless LEED APs available for LEED administration consulting. Other than passing the exam, some of them are not really directly involved with the design or construction of buildings. When sourcing the services of a LEED administrator, we argue that experience within the building industry and knowledge of how buildings go together is key. If your prime consideration for a LEED administrator is based sorely on the lowest fee, you probably will get what you pay for. If your hard construction costs are in the millions, why would you make decisions based on the opinion of someone who has never designed a building or knows very little about the construction process? It could be a costly mistake, that their low fee would not offset.
A client's approach to LEED should not be about chasing credits, there are instances where the wrong combination of credits can actually result in a unhealthy indoor environment or results in the selection of materials that are inappropriate for the building or climate. Architects for the most part are trainned professionals who understand buildings. It is their job after all to design them, produce the drawings for construction and be involved during the construction administration phase.
Having a LEED administrator who happens to be an architect, means you have a consultant who knows how to work cooperatively with the owner, design team and contractors. Understanding and knowing LEED is one thing, applying it to a project is a totally different ball game.
Here are some key points we would like to note about the advantages of using an architect who is LEED accredited as your next LEED administrator consultant:
Experience with building design and sustainability.
Understands the implications behind the use of certain materials or building technologies.
Able to have an overall view of what is going on with a building and its design.
Knowledge of building codes which may apply to your building and therefore knows if a certain strategy will impact the project.
Experience with construction processes and able to work with a project's schedule.
Knows that reality and theory are very different things.
Able to communicate LEED requirements to team members and identify which ones will impact them the most.
Will know how to maximize the requirements of the new California Green Building Standards Code with LEED.
Project management experience tends to lend itself very well to managing the LEED process.
Architects can review project designs more effectively when it comes compliance with LEED.
Construction administration experience allows for a more effective review of construction related LEED submittals.
Architects are actually licensed and have a code of conduct that enables them to be "professionals".