As sustainability becomes more important in discussions around building construction and maintenance, certifications that demonstrate experience and understanding of green building design have become especially valuable.
For this reason, credentials like LEED certification can be important for HVACR technicians and businesses.
The following covers the importance of LEED certifications for HVACR technicians and businesses as well as the process for becoming an LEED-certified HVACR technician.
Are LEED Certifications Important to HVAC Technicians?
LEED (or “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design”) is a green building certification system developed and maintained by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The system provides certification to buildings that follow a set of standards in line with current knowledge on the best practices for green and sustainable building design.
Although the LEED system is designed primarily to award certifications to green buildings, it also accredits professionals who want to demonstrate their familiarity with both LEED and green building and building maintenance practices.
An individual LEED certification can illustrate that you or your staff have both experience with and an understanding of green HVAC systems. They can also provide some assurance to owners or managers of LEED-certified buildings that you’re familiar with the standards these buildings need to meet.
Green certifications can also help an HVAC professional or HVAC business stand out from the crowd — which is one of the biggest challenges faced by HVAC companies right now in a swelling market. Being an LEED-certified professional, or hiring one, can also put an HVAC company on its way to attaining other credentials and certifications — such as MCSA’s GreenSTAR program — that require LEED accreditation.
Becoming LEED Certified
There are two levels of individual LEED accreditation — LEED Green Associate and LEED AP with specialty, both awarded based on the successful completion of an exam on LEED standards and practices. Once earned, both certificates will require some time devoted to continuing education to maintain the certificate — 15 hours for the Green Associate certification and 30 hours for the LEED AP certification.
Pursuing the LEED AP certification requires selecting one of five different specialties — Building Design + Construction, Operations + Maintenance, Interior Design + Construction, Neighborhood Development and Homes. For HVACR professionals, Operations + Maintenance will be the most relevant, as the others primarily focus on the construction of LEED buildings, rather than their maintenance.
Any of these certifications, however, will demonstrate that you are highly familiar with LEED standards.
There are no prerequisites for the LEED Green Associate Exam. For the LEED AP exam, however, you will need to already hold the Green Associate certification and be 18 years or older. You can take both exams at the same time if you currently have neither certification. LEED project experience — or exposure to LEED principles — is recommended, but not required, for both exams.
The Green Associate Exam is 100 questions long and takes around two hours to complete. It will gauge your knowledge on LEED standards and practices — like site selection, sustainable transportation and operational energy efficiency. The current fee for the exam is $250, but it will cost less if you are a student or USGBC member.
The LEED Green Associate Candidate Handbook, which is available for free online, covers the general policies and procedures you’ll need to be familiar with to pass the exam.
Taking Advantage of an LEED Certification
Because of the growing importance of sustainability and green building design, demonstrating an understanding of green building principles can be an effective way for HVACR technicians to stand out.
LEED certifications — which can be earned via the two-hour exam — can show potential clients that you’re familiar with LEED standards, principles, and can work with a green thumb.
A version of this article appeared in the April 2020 issue of SNIPS magazine.