Life After LEED: What's next after I earn my LEED AP?
Shilpi asks: I am a Graduate in Architecture and I have immense interest in pursuing the certification Course in LEED. I have over 8 years of experience in Designing-Architectural as well as interiors of commercial ,residential & ITPArks. I would like to know what is next after earning my LEED Accreditation. I live in India.
Thanks for your question. There are many architects, civil engineers and young professionals having the exact same question in their minds. So what happens after you get LEED accredited? There is no straight answer to this.
For starters you can congratulate yourself, give yourself a pat in the back and go out for a celebratory drink. One of the most important things preparing for LEED and similar accreditation can give you is the understanding of sustainability and help you clear all the myths surrounding sustainability and Green Buildings. You will gain the ability to differentiate between what is truly GREEN and what just claims to be GREEN. You will find yourself to have a better knowledge of what constitutes a Green product, Green service or a Green process.
On the career side of things, yes LEED accredited professionals are highly sought-after worldwide and in India. The Green building market is only set to grow! I am assuming you work at an architect's firm. After passing your examination you can continue doing what you do but maybe you add a Green feather to your hat by following some of the best practises in the Green building industry. You will also have the knowledge to help manage the compliance process for buildings to be LEED certified. Being an architect you also have a distinct advantage of influencing certain design decisions and hence contribute more to the buildings Green credentials. So you can help your firm carve out a new service offering in the form of LEED facilitation or environmentally conscious design services. Right now you may not have clients asking for LEED certified buildings on a regular basis but it is always better to be prepared for the expected spurt in demand.
Before assuming that this will be the next big leap in one's career, one must understand that just getting a LEED accreditation will not teach one enough to start planning, implementing and commissioning Green buildings.
You will have to continue your learning process in the field and keep up to date with the latest green building design practices similar to the Passivhaus standard. Try to gain knowledge of the latest building materials, fixtures and their environmental credentials along with latest technologies in the form of lighting, controls, automation, renewable energy, green roofs, glazing etc.
Along with all this the single biggest asset in your CV would be the ability to carry out advanced simulation for energy and lighting consumption in building designs. Find courses that can help you gain this knowledge and practice till you can perfect it. Inability to carry out building simulations in-house and having to rely on expensive freelance energy modelers is the single biggest reason for the current high cost of providing LEED facilitation services in India.
On the other hand if you are willing to put in a lot more effort, you can also start your own Green building consultancy providing services such as LEED facilitation, consulting for Bureau of Energy Efficiency star ratings, Environmental design services, Eco-interiors along with plain old architect services. Once you complete you examination you will begin to realize that there are plenty niche opportunities within the realm of Green Building industry that you might have the skill to tap and create a workable business model out of it.
One word of advice for the Indian market, avoid calling your firm a consultancy or yourself a consultant. The Indian business culture does not reward intelligence and nobody will pay you for your knowledge. So always make it sound like you are delivering a product or a valuable service even though the fact is that you are mainly bringing your knowledge to the table.