Expert Advice on Green Buildings

LEED AP Exam: Should I Take the 2009 or v4 Version?


Jongyun asks: I have registered your Project Experience Program beginning from Jan 28 and also thinking to apply LEED AP O&M after program completion. Timing will most likely be during March. However I could see both LEED 2009 & V4 are available. Could you let me know & recommend: What version will your program be focusing between 2009 & V4? What reference would you recomend for me to buy?


Hi Jongyun, thank you for your question about the LEED AP Operations + Maintenance exam.

Dates and Deadlines for LEED v4

It's important to point out that the LEED v4 exams and the LEED v4 rating system have different dates and deadlines.

The LEED v4 rating system, which is how buildings become certified, was released in November 2013. Both the 2009 and v4 rating systems will be available until June 2015. At that point, 2009 will no longer be available, and v4 will become the only option for LEED project teams. As you said, this also means that right now, both versions of the reference guides are also available until June 2015.

The LEED v4 exams will be released on June 1, 2014. Until then, only the 2009 version of the LEED Green Associate and LEED AP exams are available. On June 1st, the 2009 versions will no longer be available, and professionals must take the v4 versions. Therefore, the effective deadline for the current version of the exam is May 31st, 2014.

When to Take the LEED AP Exam

So, this means that if you would like to take the LEED AP O+M exam in March 2014, then you must take the 2009 version of the exam and should buy the 2009 reference guide to study. The advantages of taking the LEED AP exam before the May 31st deadline are that you will know what to expect because the exam has been around for about five years. As far as we know, regardless of whether you pass the 2009 or v4 version of the exam, you will still hold the same LEED AP O+M credential.

If you would like to take the LEED v4 version of the exam, then you must wait until June 1st. For that exam, you should buy the LEED v4 reference guide to study. The advantage of taking this exam is that you will be familiar with the new rating systems, which will eventually replace 2009 rating systems - so you'll be more up to date and more useful on future projects. The downside of taking this new exam are that you won't know what to expect until a number of professionals have taken the exam. It could be harder than the 2009 version, but we won't know until it's released. It's also likely that the 2009 rating systems will be more popular until mid-2015, because professionals are more familiar with how it works. So, you may be working on 2009 version certification projects for the next year and a half, and your LEED v4 knowledge may not be 100% useful until June 2015. However, since you'll be familiar with LEED 2009 from working on the LEED Project Experience Program, this may not be much of an issue.

Essentially, the decision is up to you: Do you want to take the exam now with a better idea of what the test will be like? Or, do you want to be on the cutting edge of green building and understand v4 in advance of the June 2015 deadline? You may want to think about your career. If you don't anticipate working on many LEED projects at your job, you may want to take the 2009 exam, because it will be more predictable and therefore, easier to prepare for. If you are working on a lot of LEED projects at your job, it may be helpful to get ahead on LEED v4 so that you will have valuable knowledge for future projects.

Best of luck, Jongyun!

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