17 concepts you should know to pass the LEED v4 GA Exam
17 concepts you should
know to pass the
LEED v4 Green Associate
1. Minimum Program Requirements (MPRs)
“All projects applying for LEED certification must meet a set of minimum
program requirements” according to the USGBC
The Minimum Program Requirements (MPRs) are the minimum
characteristics or conditions that make a project appropriate to pursue
MPRs serve the purpose of giving clear guidance to customers, protecting
the integrity of the LEED program, and reducing challenges that occur
during the LEED process
All LEED projects (except LEED for Homes and Neighborhood
Development) must meet all MPRs to become certified. MPRs include:
1. Must be in a permanent location on existing land
2. Must use reasonable LEED boundaries
3. Must comply with project size requirements
Reference: LEED v4 BD+C Reference Guide
2. Integrative Project Planning and Design
Integrated Project planning and design involves people, systems, business
structures and practices. The process utilizes talents of all project
participants to create the best results, reduce waste and ensure
efficiency throughout all phases of the design process.
Preparation of an Owner’s Project Requirements Document (OPR),
Preliminary Rating Goals, Selection of an Integrated Project Team and Design
Reference: LEED v4 BD+C Reference Guide
3. Credit Interpretation Process
The Credit Interpretation Process supports high-
performance, cost-effective project outcomes through an
analysis of the interrelationships among systems.
It is used to identify and achieve synergies across disciplines and
CIRs cost $220 each.
4. LEED Boundaries
In order for a project to become LEED certified, teams must follow
and report specific site boundaries meaning land in and around the
project space that are affected as a result.
This includes the site area affected by the construction, including
parking and open space.
The LEED project boundary may not be “gerrymandered” or be
designed to exclude portions of a space simply for the purposes of
seeking LEED certification.
5. Surrounding Density and Diverse Uses
For the Location and Transportation Credit, LEED requires that buildings
being constructed or renovated must enhance community connectivity in
order to do the following:
Conserve land and protect farmland and wildlife habitat by encouraging
development in areas with existing infrastructure.
Promote walkability, and transportation efficiency and reduce vehicle distance
Improve public health by encouraging daily physical activity.
The are multiple ways to meet this credit. One example is being close to
other services in the community. For example, laundromats, cleaners,
parks, libraries, and/or restaurants.
6. Sustainable Sites (SS)
Sustainable Sites minimize a project's impact on the surrounding
The Sustainable Sites category rewards projects with credits that
emphasize the relationships among buildings, ecosystems, and
It focuses on restoring project site elements and preserving the
To gain credits, project teams “use low-impact development
methods that minimize construction pollution, reduce heat island
effects and light pollution, and mimic natural water flow patterns
to manage rainwater runoff.”
Reference: BD+C v4 Reference Guide
7. Water Efficiency (WE)
The Water Efficiency (WE) category aims to promote "efficiency first" by
reducing potable water consumption through effective efficiency strategies
and also by encouraging the use of non-potable "greywater" where possible.
LEED encourages 40% less water use in green buildings than conventional
There are specific prerequisites and credits in Water Efficiency on the
Water Efficiency Terms to Know:
Tertiary Standards or Tertiary Treatment
8. Flow Rates
In order for a project to meet LEED indoor water use
requirements, it must include high-efficiency water
You must know specific flow rates for different fixtures
which you can see in the LEED v4 GA Study Guide.
There are specific requirements for flow rates when
installing high-efficiency (low-flow) fixtures or fittings.
9. Full Time Equivalent (FTE) Calculations
Full Time Equivalents are regular building occupants who
spend 40 hours a week in the project building. For the
exam, you should know how to calculate FTEs.
Full Time Equivalent (FTE) calculations are sometimes
used in LEED to estimate the number of full-time
employees, part-time employees, residents and transient
visitors (optional to include) in the building on an average
One part-time employee counts as 1/2 a full time
10. EA Prerequisite Refrigerant Management
The purpose of the EA Refrigerant Management credit is reduce
stratospheric ozone depletion as well as comply with the
The USGBC prohibits use of “chlorofluorocarbon (CFC)-based
refrigerants in new heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, and
refrigeration (HVAC&R) systems.”
Project teams can do the following: not use refrigerants or use
natural refrigerants, or minimize refrigerant use with low-
When reusing existing HVAC&R equipment, teams should
complete a comprehensive CFC phase-out conversion before
11. Renewable Energy
Uses of on-site renewable energy for a LEED project must comply with
renewable energy standards.
The purpose of the renewable energy credit is to encourage the use of
renewable energy, such as solar photovoltaics and wind power, as an
on-site alternative to fossil fuel energy.
The calculation for determining the building’s annual energy costs
should use the following:
12. HVAC Requirements
HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning
HVAC Standards are a component of the Indoor
Environmental Quality Credit for providing optimal comfort
for occupants in the most efficient way possible.
Project Teams are required to provide thermal comfort for
at least 50% of occupant spaces.
Teams can either meet ASHRAE Standard 55-2010, ISO, or
CEN Standards for Ergonomics of the Thermal Environment.
13. Low Emitting Materials Standard
The purpose of this standard is to reduce the concentration of toxic
chemicals or volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to increase air
quality, human health and productivity in the environment.
Project Teams should use Product Category Rules (PCRs) or VOC
budgets to test for VOC emissions.
This standard can be met either by complying with thresholds for
interior paints and coatings, interior adhesives and sealants, etc. or
by using the Budget Calculation Method, which is a weighted average
calculation that includes the VOC information for each product.
Reference: BD+C Reference Guide
14. Material Reuse (MR) Recycled Content
The Material Reuse Recycled Content standard promotes
reducing, reusing and recycling of materials.
One way to receive an MR credit is to use at least 25% (by cost) of
permanently installed building products that are post-consumer
content + 1/2 pre-consumer content
Pre-consumer content is material diverted from the waste stream
during the manufacturing process.
Ex: Shavings, sawdust, walnut shells
Post-consumer content is material produced by households,
commercial, industrial or institutional facilities which can no longer
be used for its original purpose.
Ex: Newspapers, plastic bottles, soup cans
15. Biobased materials
Biobased materials are required to meet the Sustainable
Biobased materials are defined as commercial or
industrial products (other than food) that are composed
of biological products, renewable agricultural materials or
Leather and other animal hides are not considered biobased
16. Rapidly Renewable Materials List
Rapidly Renewable materials are building materials made from plants that are
typically harvested in a ten year or shorter life cycle.
Projects that use rapidly renewable materials are awarded one point for at
least 2.5% of all building materials used on the project, based on cost.
LEED encourages the use of regional materials to reduce the byproducts of
construction materials transportation to a building site. Regional materials are
cotton insulation (recycled jeans?)
natural linoleum (Marmoleum)
17. Exemplary Performance (EP)
EPs are points awarded for using innovative design
measure and exemplary performance (going above and
beyond the credit requirements).
Projects eligible for EPs achieve between 1-2 additional
points “for achieving double the credit requirements or
the next incremental percentage threshold.”
Some standards do not award Eps
Reference: BD+C Reference Guide
Additional Study Materials…
Learn more about our Super Study Pack which includes:
Poplar’s 131 page LEED v4 Green Associate Study Guide (PDF) with 100
question practice test
400 practice questions with exam simulator
9 module Online LEED v4 Green Associate training course
2 hour downloadable MP3 Audio Study Guide
400 Downloadable/Printable PDF Flashcards
Bonus LEED Exam Memorization Guide (only available with the Super