Question: Shan asks: I have finished Sustainable Building Advisor (SBA) program and am taking the test on 7th June. In SBA, we have worked on a green building project. I would like to take the test for the LEED AP. My questions are:- Am I eligible for: 1. LEED AP? 2. Should I take the LEED GA? 3. Should I pass and get certificate of SBA to apply for LEED AP?

Answer: Hi Shan, thank you for your question and congratulations on finishing the Sustainable Building Advisor (SBA) Program.

Sustainable Building Advisor vs. LEED

The Sustainable Building Advisor (SBA) Program is a certification program in San Francisco that teaches students how to design, construct and maintain high performance buildings.

The program includes lectures from over 30 subject matter experts, hands-on projects and field trips. At the end of the course, students can take an exam and earn the Certified Sustainable Building Advisor (CSBA) designation.

The SBA program is different from LEED professional credentials because it is much more time-intensive and course-based. The LEED exams do not require in-person coursework, only exams, to earn the credential. The SBA program is a much more in-depth education program.

However, while the SBA program is perhaps more valuable than a LEED credential because of the level of involvement, the CSBA designation is not as well-known as LEED credentials.

LEED is the most popular green building rating system in the U.S. and has certified buildings in 170 countries around the world, so most employers in the industry will recognize and value the credential.

USGBC, the organization that creates the LEED rating system, and GBCI, the organization that administers the LEED credentials, are not involved with the SBA program… however, the SBA program can count as continuing education credits for Green Associates and LEED APs.

Eligibility for the LEED Exam

We recommend that people start with the LEED Green Associate credential as the first step in becoming LEED accredited.

While you can take both the LEED Green Associate and LEED AP exams together, we don’t recommend it.

To earn the LEED AP credential, you must pass the Green Associate exam portion. Taking the Green Associate test first makes it easier to earn the credentials.

The Green Associate exam (also known as the GA exam) does not have eligibility requirements. Before November 2012, GBCI did require eligibility in the form of education, LEED project experience, or a sustainable field of work, but it removed those requirements shortly before 2013.

Once you have earned the Green Associate credential, you can move on to the LEED AP. The LEED AP exam tests knowledge of LEED project experience which the LEED GA does not.

Taking the SBA Program will only help you pass the LEED AP exam if you if you worked on a LEED registered project during that time.

If you have not worked on a LEED project and do not have the opportunity to do so through your job, you can participate in the LEED Project Experience Program.

This allows you to work on a registered project 100% online.


imageClaire Moloney

A recent graduate of Cornell University, where ahe studied Environmental Science and concentrated in Sustainable Development. Her interest in green building and LEED stems from her project-based coursework at Cornell, where ahe proposed design strategies for sustainable developments in Helena, MT and Ithaca, NY. Claire also exercised her passion for sustainability and energy conservation through extracurricular activities at Cornell, such as Solar Decathlon, Lights Off Cornell and Sustainability Hub. For the last three summers, she worked on energy projects at a town government, including an on-site hydrogen station and EECBG-funded activities.

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