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Experience Requirement Loosened for LEED v4 AP Exam

The LEED AP exam itself will test project-ready proficiency—no demonstration of actual project experience will be required.
April 6, 2014

With LEED v4 having been released in November 2013, and the transition away from LEED 2009 underway, the U.S. Green Building Council has announced several key dates and requirements as it shifts LEED professional credentials to LEED v4.

Project experience will no longer be an eligibility requirement for those seeking LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP) certification, according to the newly released LEED v4 candidate handbooks. That requirement, which since LEED 2009's introduction has sent aspiring LEED APs in search of friendly project teams to join, and "letters of attestation" from project administrators, has been changed to a "recommendation" in a move that is consistent with USGBC's general move to streamline LEED v4 documentation, a USGBC official told LEEDuser.

The wording of the BD+C candidate handbook states, "Prior LEED project experience is strongly recommended. Practitioner experience is critical to the LEED AP designation and, as such, project proficiency will be tested objectively within the LEED AP exam itself."

In other words, USGBC and GBCI will rely on the LEED AP exam itself to test project-ready proficiency. Unlike the LEED 2009 candidate handbook, the new handbook does not currenlty offer sample questions, but it does feature a list of "task domains" and "knowledge domains" that candidates will be tested on. Here is a short sampling:

  • Ensure production of documents necessary for LEED compliance (e.g., drawings, policies, specifications, contracts, protocols)
  • Coordinate and disseminate Addenda
  • Submit technical questions to USGBC
  • Maintain the LEED scorecard
  • Suggest and promote use of innovation credits

For more information, see:

Here are key dates:

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  • The last day to take the credential exams with LEED v2009 content will be June 15, 2014.
  • The first day to take the exams with the new LEED v4 content will be June 30, 2014.
  • No tests will be administered in between these dates.

If you fail the LEED v2009 exam and do not schedule a retake before June 15, you will have to take the v4 exam. If you become a Green Associate through the LEED 2009 exam, you can take the v4 exam to become a LEED AP. There are a lot of translation options available for the exams.

There has been some misinformation around that the LEED AP Homes credential is going away, but USGBC has confirmed that this is not the case.

What questions or comments do you have about upcoming changes to the LEED AP exams? Please post them below.


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December 23, 2016 - 12:47 pm


I am planning on taking the LEED AP Homes v4 test. Can anyone who has taken this test share their experience? BD+C v4 has a lot of study material available online, but I could not find any for Homes v4. Would the Reference Guide be enough?


July 2, 2015 - 9:29 am

Do legacy LEED AP's need to take the LEED GA exam if they wanted to re-test to become a specialized LEED AP? Or does the fact that they are already a LEED AP allow them to skip the LEED GA exam and go right to the specialized LEED AP exam?

July 2, 2015 - 2:54 pm

The legacy AP system is considered "retired". I think they tried everything to erase the old AP system but kept the website listing active because of strong feedback from people.

After the last opt-in period I don't believe there is any benefit provided to legacies. Any legacy who wants to gain a specialty will have to sit for both exams. So a LEED GA has a leg up on obtaining their AP with specialty than any legacy AP.

July 19, 2014 - 8:34 pm

Dear Tristan,

I did the LEED Green Associate exam right before the change of version. I have only used one book to study (Gang Chen).

I am now ready to study for the LEED AP BD+C exam but there are so many study materials that I am thinking of directly buying the LEED reference guide. However, I don't have any LEED project experience. Even though experience is not required anymore, should I enroll into an online experience program?

If you can help or if someone else who did the BD+C exam can give me an advice with the preparation for the exam it would be very appreciated.

Thank you!

December 20, 2014 - 1:43 am


I would say that the reference guide is the ultimate studying tool. However, there is lots of information in it that is not going to be on the test.

My studying strategy would be to download the BD+C rating systems pdf on USGBC's website. Read it over and over until you absorb and understand much of it. After that, go back to the reference guide and review the calculations for the credits that have them.

After that, study the LEED process and how a project gets certified.

And after that, review the glossary. Get familiar with some of the more unusual terms. There is also a separate glossary that can be downloaded.

I passed without even having the reference guide.

In less than two weeks, I'm taking the ID+C exam. I'm using the same studying strategy. However, there seems to be much less study material available for ID+C than BD+C.

Remember to study the Healthcare and Schools variations. Do not skip it.

Good luck!

December 18, 2014 - 2:29 am

Thanks and congratulation Jeffrey...

I am planning to give exam in upcoming month. I have just one small question, Is studying from reference guide is enough to get well prepared for the exam ?

December 13, 2014 - 2:56 pm

Hi Pawan,

I just passed the BD+C exam this week. Basically, you need to know 1. The LEED certification process; and, 2. memorization of the details of the rating system. There were also a lot of questions on Healthcare projects, which I was not expecting. A few on schools. I don't have LEED project experience, and I did not buy any study material. If you can familiarize yourself well with the LEED process and prerequisite/credit details, you should pass. Perhaps you already did by now!

November 5, 2014 - 2:40 am

Hi Filipe,
Congratulation for passing the exam. It would be grateful if you share your experience about the exam, specifically, how they test LEED project experience within the exam.


July 23, 2014 - 9:15 pm

Hello Marie,
I just passed on the LEED v4 AP BD+C exam on 21th July. I highly recommend the Reference Guide and the quiz from GBES so you can keep track on your evolution and have confidence on when to mark the exam. I`m from Brazil so for me is not so natural to learn tons of information in english, but in 2 months I could prepare myself well. I had previous experiences on some LEED credits but I don`t think is mandatory in order to make a good test. Thank you!

July 2, 2014 - 11:11 pm

Hello LEEDuser, I am new to this forum and am planning on taking my AP exam this august. Has anyone taken the v4 BD+C exam yet, and if so, what were their experiences?

May 29, 2014 - 1:01 am

When doing the exam registration, although its clear that .... "If you register prior to June 15th and sit for your exam after June 29th, your test will cover LEED v4 material." and as you wrote in this blog: "Project experience will no longer be an eligibility requirement for those seeking LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP) certification" .... The eligibility section requires you to fill in your participation on a registered or certified LEED project....

Is this an update that USGBC is missing on their procedure or I dont get it and you still need to have that experience listed?

April 30, 2014 - 1:40 pm

This may be a dumb question, but I cannot find anywhere where it states that you must first take and pass the Green Associate exam in order to take the LEED AP w/ specialty exam.

Is LEED Green Associate such an obvious per-requisite to LEED AP that it is not stated anywhere?

April 30, 2014 - 3:20 pm

GIlberto, it is a little counterintuitive in that the LEED Green Associate exam is considered Part 1 if the LEED AP exam. So if you look at page 9 of the LEED AP candidate handbook you will see how it is all part of the package. You don't have to do it all in one sitting, of course.

April 16, 2014 - 6:50 am

Hi Tristan ,

I am presently a LEED AP ( BD+C ). I was hoping to write LEED ND and become a LEED AP ( ND ). Should this be also done before June 15th ? Addtionally , can i also assume that project experience is not an eligibility requirement for becoming a LEED AP ( ND ) 2009

April 21, 2014 - 7:14 am

Thanks a lot , Tristan. I have decided to take up the V4 version , all in the hope that its not all that different from V2009.

April 16, 2014 - 7:29 am

Lakshmi, the project experience requirement for LEED 2009 has not been removed, and will remain a factor for exam-takers through June 15th.

If you want to get your LEED-ND credential testing on v2009, it seems clear from USGBC that you need to do it by June 15th. You will have the opportunity to do it on v4 material (which is not all that different) after June 30th.

The only thing I am not entirely sure of is when the LEED-ND v4 exam will be available, as the candidate handbook has not yet been posted, and the ND v4 rating system is not yet released. However, it seems clear that the v2009 exam will end June 15th.

Note that there is not a 2009 or a v4 credential. It's just a matter of what material you are being tested on. Either way, it's a LEED BD+C, etc., credential.

By the way, USGBC released two sample exam questions.

April 10, 2014 - 1:22 pm

Hi Tristan,

You mention that "If you fail the LEED v2009 exam and do not schedule a retake before June 15, you will have to take the v4 exam".

By scheduling the retake you mean the date in which you would have to take the "second exam" HAS to be before June 15? Or does it mean that if I pay and set the date of the exam let's say on June 13th to take it in July 2nd it is possible to still get the 2009 version?

I hope I was clear.

Thank you!

April 13, 2014 - 1:03 pm

Thank you Tristan, it is.

April 10, 2014 - 2:18 pm

Nadia, the v2009 exam will not be offered after June 15, even for re-takes. I hope that is more clear.