2020 year in review: LEED credentialing

February 5, 2021

With COVID-19 heavily impacting test center availability across the globe, the GBCI credentialing team immediately reprioritized key focus areas for 2020 and adopted an action-driven approach to quickly adapt to serve the needs of our candidates and credential holders.

Online exams and credential maintenance

Within a period of eight weeks, the credentialing team, in partnership with our test delivery vendor, Prometric, developed and implemented ISO/IEC 17024-compliant online exams. This was no small feat, as it required everyone on the team to work together to deliver a seamless solution with supporting resources. The strength of the operational processes that we have developed and implemented over the past decade stood us in good stead and allowed us to quickly adapt and implement a strategic plan for recovery.

Online exams were launched successfully in mid-May for all LEED credentials, thus providing candidates the flexibility to take the exams online 24/7, with the added advantage of removing geographic barriers. Since then, over 5,300 online exams were delivered, representing 63% of LEED exams during that period.Throughout the year, GBCI and Prometric collaborated to improve the customer experience and educate candidates as they sat for their online exams.

LEED credential holders meet most of their credentialing maintenance requirements at our in-person events. At virtual Greenbuild 2020, we introduced a pilot program to offer flexibility to attendees by allowing them to meet this requirement for 90 days after the event.

2020 snapshot of LEED credentials

In addition to swiftly responding to COVID-19, our team is proud of the following accomplishments:

  • Onboarding 9,444 new LEED professionals, with 3,407 of them coming from our international markets
  • LEED credentials earned for the first time in four countries in 2020: Aruba, Georgia, Cambodia and Federated States of Micronesia
  • 10,700+ exams delivered
  • 5,300+ online exams
  • 33,852 LEED professionals renewed their credentials
  • Over 204,000 LEED professionals are now actively developing, supporting and contributing to LEED in 134 countries

Equity in credentialing

Fairness and impartiality underlie GBCI’s policies and procedures, and this was brought to the fore in 2020 as professionals around the world faced job insecurity. Over the past 10 years, GBCI Credentialing has worked to increase equity by:

  • Changing eligibility requirements: By not requiring the work experience as a mandatory eligibility requirement, we have improved the accessibility of the LEED AP credential to more people.
  • Increasing access through language diversity: Over the past decade, we have continually invested in translations to ensure people can access the exams and resources in their native language.
  • Creating alternative exam delivery modes: Through alternative modes of exam delivery in computer centers, paper and pencil in correctional facilities, and online exams, we are continuing to increase the accessibility of exams. We will continue our efforts to support people with disabilities, those with transportation challenges and those in rural areas having access to the exams and resources.
  • Expanding access to LEED Green Associate: Having no minimum age requirement for the LEED Green Associate allows individuals of all ages the opportunity to gain the credential. In addition, this requirement supports rehabilitation and education programs in prisons, allowing individuals convicted of a felony to earn the LEED Green Associate credential.
  • Engaging veterans to access LEED credentials through the reimbursement offered by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.
  • Celebrating and promoting gender diversity: An active campaign is in progress to celebrate and recognize women leaders who are LEED Fellows to increase the engagement of women in green building.
  • Funding for 500 individuals from underserved and underrepresented communities to earn a LEED credential.
  • Building equity in governance: We monitor key demographic metrics to ensure the Credentialing Steering Committee comprises an equitable balance of diverse voices.

LEED Fellow

GBCI convened 37 existing LEED Fellows to participate in the 2020 LEED Fellow evaluation committee, led by Deepa Sathiaram (Chair) and Kim Shinn (Vice Chair). Nominee applications were evaluated for exceptional impact in LEED in four out of five mastery elements (including technical proficiency). Twenty-five new LEED fellows were elevated in 2020, bringing the total number of LEED Fellows to 341. Over the past few years, we have been happy to see a steady increase in applications from women (30%) and applicants outside North America (21%).

LEED credential maintenance

Continuing education is the most frequently used option for LEED professionals to maintain their credentials. In 2020, our team reviewed over 1,800 educational courses, including 624 LEED-specific courses, all of which are eligible for LEED credential maintenance.

Governance

Thanks to the hard work of 80 subject matter experts, we achieved continued compliance with ISO/IEC 17024 standard for LEED exams. Candidates appearing for an exam are offered the opportunity to voice concerns or complaints in relation to the LEED exam content and testing environment. Of the 39 concerns received in 2020, only 15 were valid and drove further improvements to our process.

LEED credentialing is overseen by our volunteer-led Credentialing Steering Committee (CSC). This committee is responsible for reviewing, and overseeing the development, implementation and evaluation of existing and future professional credentialing programs under GBCI. Members of the CSC are a diverse group in terms of industry experience, area of practice, nationality, gender, race and education. In 2020, the CSC welcomed a new chair and vice chair and eight new members.

Independent of the COVID-19 challenges we faced in the last year, our volunteers and staff have worked hard to create a credentialing foundation that has strengthened our position for a post-pandemic world. In addition to expressing my gratitude to all for their commitment and hard work, I want to assure our global community that we will continue this work to advance our credentialing vision and goals in 2021.