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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

LEED and I: How to prepare for LEED NC Exam

It must have been sometime in the year 2001 when the word "LEED" entered my peripheral vocabulary. My friend Sunil Patel of TMAD Taylor & Gaines was in Oakland to establish a branch office in Northern California. Sunil asked me if I knew what LEED was. I did not know. He passionately explained to me the philosophy behind LEED, and then spread out a number of manuals in front of me. I looked at the material half-heartedly, as I had other things going on in life and was not interested in investing my time in a new green program. Very quickly I forgot everything about LEED I heard from Sunil or gathered from a quick skim of LEED manuals--everything except the fact that LEED wants you to use regional material.
My professional mechanical consulting engineering life went on with LEED existing on the fringes of consciousness. But voices citing LEED were gaining strength, I became aware of the fact that you could take an exam and become a LEED accredited professional. But none of my clients ever asked me if I was a LEED AP. Then last year that is in 2008, I provided my professional services to Applied Materials (AMAT). AMAT was in the process of LEED certification of its existing buildings. My help was sought in earning the Energy and Atmosphere (EA) credits. It was then that I read through the LEED-EB scorecard and became more familiar with the rating system. Then came recession and I found a lot of time at my hand. I decided to earn the LEED accreditation. But I procrastinated, till I found out that the LEED version 2.2 I was somewhat familiar with, would be superseded by a newer version and I needed to register for the 2.2 version exam by the end of March. A lot of people prepare for the LEED exam by first studying the material and then scheduling the exam. That was not going to work for me. I needed a deadline, a goal, a target date. So I registered for LEED NC exam on Monday, March 30, 2009, just one day before the deadline to register for v2.2--I could register only after completing my tax return work. I scheduled to take the exam on Monday, May 4 at 12 Noon at the Prometric office in San Jose. Why Monday? Because my babysitting duties end on Sunday--they start Friday evening. Why 12 Noon? Because it would give me some time to start a relaxed morning and easily reach the exam site without any stress. I now had more than a month to study.
After registering for the exam I started studying, but not right away. I got the LEED NC 2.2 reference guide on Friday, April 10. I quickly realized how long it had been that I had read anything with focus and had retained my attention on the document. I read the chapter on Sustainable Sites lying in bed. I did not take any notes telling myself I only needed to have an overall understanding of the material without getting into the nitty gritty. So, SS prerequisite and credits, along with their intents, requirements, calculations, submittal documentation, and strategies were all reviewed in a couple of hours--that must have been on Saturday, April 11. Then on Monday, April 13, I did similarly justice to IAQ. The chapter on Materials and Resources was read sitting on a bench in the Children Discovery Museum, while the children played. Summary reading of Water Efficiency and Energy & Atmosphere followed. Then I took a sample test and the result felt like a hard kick in the butt. I found out how ill-prepared I was and I was going to be for the exam, with my erstwhile strategy. I decided to make an Excel file of all information I would gather while reading the reference guide. My study took a more serious approach, but then I realized I had already wasted a lot of time. The exam was on May 4, just over two weeks out. I decided I would take two sample exams before April 26 and then take the USGBC Colorado Chapter sample exam on Monday, April 27. If I did not score over 80% in those exams, I would reschedule. So here I am. Today is April 28 and the exam is on May 4. I have scored just over 50% in the sample exams. I must reschedule and do it before the end of tomorrow (Wednesday)--the rescheduling fee is $30. But when should I take the exam? I need to take it before June 30 and I should take it on a Monday or Tuesday. But when? It is not a question to you, it is a question to myself, and I am pretty sure having written all this I would come up with an answer soon.

[Art courtesy of USGBC web site.]



Blogger Sustainable Thoughts said...

if you're interested we have a study session in Berkeley for the LEED Exam on Monday/Tuesday of next week. It'll really focus your study efforts. If you'd like to attend, let me know.

6:23 PM  
Blogger Aussie said...

Studying for the LEED was stressful.. and it took too much of my time. I didn't want to spend much on what I didn't have to.. e.g. study guides, flash cards etc.. so I just signed up for a prep course.(Clean Edison is great) Bam.. I was done. All the study materials were included, I took the test and I passed. Done. I tried to study on my own but frankly I would rather pay someone to help me get it over with quickly than to waste additional time figuring out where to start.

3:27 PM  

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