If you’ve been following recent developments with LEED, you know that earlier this month USGBC members approved a restructured version of the rating system. The revamped LEED, which is set to launch in 2009, includes a number of significant changes, but one of the most important is a reweighting of credits to more accurately reflect the environmental benefits of the strategies that project teams choose to employ.

As part of this evolution, a new process for accrediting the professionals who work on LEED projects (known as LEED APs) will be rolled out. To explain the new AP program, the Green Building Certification Institute (the non-profit spun off from USGBC to administer both professional credentialing and project certification) held two information sessions at Greenbuild in Boston. If attendance is any indication, current APs and procrastinators like me who have been long intending to take the qualifying exam, were very interested in what the pending changes would mean for them. According to the USGBC and GBCI, 3,000 people attended the presentations.

At the sessions, representatives from GBCI explained plans for instituting a three-tier system of credentials. The most basic will be “Green Associate,” which is intended for people who want to demonstrate a commitment to green building practices but may not be directly involved in LEED projects. “AP+” will indicate a higher level of expertise. And finally, “AP Fellow” will be a sort of green guru designation.

Current APs (there are about 65,000) will be able to maintain the credential, but as inactive professionals.  To gain active status, these “legacy” APs will need to sign an ethics agreement and satisfy a biannual requirement for 30 hours of continuing education.

Along with the new designations, GBCI will gradually release a new series of accreditation exams between May and August of next year.  The old test will stop being offered early in 2009, providing just the incentive I need to finally stop stalling and get serious about studying. I’m registered to take the exam the first week in January. Wish me luck!