Thursday, June 9, 2011

Free slides on LEED AP BD+C exam prep


We are pleased to offer some FREE slides on LEED GA Exam Prep, and LEED AP BD+C Exam Prep at our site.

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Gang Chen, Author, AIA, LEED AP BD+C

The easiest way to prepare for LEED AP BD+C Exam

In summary, the easiest way to prepare for LEED AP BD+C Exam is:

1. Start by downloading and reading the most current and official LEED AP BD+C candidate handbook from

2. Carefully go over the official GBCI LEED AP BD+C Exam candidate handbook. Download the 14 FREE PDF files for Part I of the LEED AP BD+C Exam (It is the exactly same as the LEED GA Exam) per the links listed at the end of the candidate handbook. These 14 PDF files should cover about 20% to 30% of the Part I of the LEED AP BD+C Exam scope.

Forget about the USGBC LEED GA Study Guide or the USGBC Core Concept Guide, they are pretty much the same and does NOT have enough information. Many people failed because they completely depend on these two books. USGBC and GBCI are two different entities now, so these two books are NOT really the "official" guide books.

The LEED GA Exam tests you information harder than the USGBC LEED GA Study Guide or USGBC Core Concept Guide, but easier than the almost 700-page USGBC reference guide.

3. Download the remaining 5 PDF files for the Part II of the LEED AP BD+C Exam (About 20% to 30% of the Part II test content will come from these materials). Some of the PDF files are duplicated for both the Part I and the Part II of the exam, which means they will be tested in both parts of the exam.

Part II is VERY difficult when compared with Part I of the exam.

4. Buy the almost 700-page USGBC LEED BD&C Reference Guide and read it from cover to cover if you have time. The USGBC Reference Guide is comprehensive, but it gives too much information. Searching for information related to LEED AP BD+C Exam from the USGBC Reference Guides is like "looking for a needle in a haystack." Many of the calculations in the books are too detailed for the exam. It is also expensive (approximately $200, so most people may not buy it for their personal use, but instead, will seek to share an office copy).

It is good to read a reference guide from cover to cover if you have the time. The problem is that few people have the time to read the whole reference guide. Even if you do read the whole guide, you may not remember the important issues to pass the LEED exam. You need to review the material several times before you can remember much of it.

Reading the reference guide from cover to cover without a guidebook is a difficult and inefficient way of preparing for the LEED AP BD+C exam, because you do NOT know what USGBC and GBCI are looking for in the exam.

Buy my book, "LEED BD&C Exam Guide," and read it from cover to cover SEVERAL times and get the bulk of the information from the book, and just look up information you are not sure from the USGBC LEED BD&C Reference Guide.

"LEED BD&C Exam Guide" covers the remaining 70% to 80% of the LEED AP BD+C Exam scope and focuses on them. Do NOT read too many books and go to too many websites, and do NOT spread yourself too thin. "LEED BD&C Exam Guide" will help you pass the exam on the first try (many of my reader already passed the LEED AP BD+C Exam on the first try), and it'll be a very useful reference book you'll refer to again and again long after the exam. It contains MORE information than the official USGBC reference guide, but it costs only 1/3 of the price of the official USGBC reference guide.

5. Download the latest USGBC LEED Addenda for the LEED BD&C and become familiar with them. USGBC issues LEED Addenda on a quarterly basis. GBCI does test the info in the USGBC LEED Addenda.

6. Do 1 or 2 sets of mock exams to find your weakness. My other book, "LEED BD&C Mock Exam" is very similar to the real exam. It has 200 mock exam questions. Time your LEED prep effort properly. Save one set of mock exam and do it 3 days before the exam, but do NOT do the mock exam the night before the exam: You'll go into a panic mode if you do not do well, and you'll have NO time to recover and review your weakness.

7. Last but NOT least, go over the portions you marked up and the questions that you answered incorrectly.

Does "LEED BD&C Exam Guide" cover both parts of the test?

Yes, it covers both parts of the LEED AP BD+C Exam.

"LEED BD&C Exam Guide" includes the information in "LEED GA Exam Guide," PLUS complete discussion of LEED prerequisites and credits for LEED NC, LEED CS, and LEED Schools rating systems, PLUS a summary table and a mnemonics for each LEED category, PLUS comprehensive study materials, 20 extra sample questions, and information on green building design and construction, LEED certification, and sustainability.

What others are saying about "LEED BD&C EXAM GUIDE"...

Not a bulky ref guide
"This book ("LEED BD&C EXAM GUIDE") does a great job in highlighting and summarizing the key points and concepts in USGBC ref guide. If you only have limited amount of time for AP exam preparation, definitely go for this book."

Very valuable guide!
"I am a lighting designer and am preparing to take the LEED BD+C exam. A few years ago I had taken the LEED 2.0 beta test and unfortunately did not pass it. I got this guide ("LEED BD&C EXAM GUIDE") to prepare for the 3.0 version and it was fairly well organized to help me refresh my memory on the background LEED knowledge I had. All the specifics that one needs to know about each credit such as the Purpose of the credit, Credit path, Submittals, Strategies and technologies etc, are clearly organized for every credit. In addition the author also employs the smart technique of Mnemonics which helps in memorizing the vast amount of information in a simplified manner."
---Visswapriya Prabakar

Immensely valuable and utterly to the point, a true must have!
This is an excellent publication by Gang Chen that outlines precisely all the key points one need for success. I personally appreciate the easy to adopt memorization technique offered by the author. Practice exams are very comprehensive yet summarized and not to mention highly effective learning tool as it is designed in this book. It is a very delightful experience for me to have this outstanding publication. In a word, this definitely worth the money and for me it turns out extraordinarily helpful.
---Shanaz, who passed LEED AP BD+C Exam on the first try

Very Helpful!
"I found the book ("LEED BD&C EXAM GUIDE") to be very detailed and very helpful. I plan to take the exam soon, and I feel fully prepared for it."
--- Yousuf Asadzoi

Good book!
"I had appeared for GA and passed. I loved the content and the underlined highlights. I read your book; it gave me insight and knowledge on how credits are applied. Some questions in your book helped me answer ones on the test. Good book, I'll go through it once again when I appear for AP."
---Haresh Vibhakar, AIIA ( India ), AIA, LEED Green Associate

Latest trend for LEED Exams

Recently, there are quite a few readers run into the versions of the LEED exams that have many questions on refrigerants (CFC, HCFC, and HFC), the following advice will help you answer these questions correctly:

"For more information, see free pdf file of "The Treatment by LEED of the Environmental Impact of HVAC Refrigerants" that you can download at link below:

This is a VERY important document that you need to become familiar with. Many real LEED exam questions (CFC, HCFC, and HFC, etc.) come from this document. You need to download it for free and read it at least 3 times.

Pay special attention to the Table on ODP and GWP on page 3. You do not have to remember the exact value of all ODPs and GWPs, but you do need to know the rough number for various groups of refrigerants."

This latest trend regarding refrigerants (CFC, HCFC, and HFC) for LEED Exams has a lot to do with the LEED 3.0 Crediting weighting. EA (including refrigerants) is the big winner in LEED v3.0, so it has MORE questions than any other areas for ALL the LEED Exams. See pages 16 to 17 of my book, "LEED BD&C Exam Guide" quoted below:

"How are LEED credits allocated and weighted?
Answer: They are allocated and weighted per strategies that will have greater positive impacts on the most important environmental factors: CO2 reductions and energy efficiency.

They are weighted against 13 aftereffects of human activities, including carbon footprint / climate change (25%), indoor-air quality (15%), resource/fossil-fuel depletion (9%), particulates (8%), water use/water intake (7%), human health: cancer (7%), ecotoxity (6%), eutrophication (5%), land use/habitat alteration (5%), human health: non cancer (4%), smog formation (4%), acidification (3%), and ozone depletion (2%) .

These 13 aftereffects are created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and are also known as "TRACI", a mnemonic for "Tool for the Reduction and Assessment of Chemical and Other Environmental Impacts."

1) The USGBC uses a reference building to estimate environmental impact in the 13 categories above.

2) The USGBC also used a tool developed by the National Institute of Standard and Technology (NIST) to prioritize the TRACI categories.

3) It also created a matrix to show the existing LEED credits and the TRACI categories, and used data that quantify building impacts on human health and environment to allocate points for each credit.

The points for Energy and transportation credits have been greatly increased in LEED 2009 primarily because of the importance of reducing carbon or greenhouse gas emissions. Water Efficiency is also a big winner in the credits, doubled from 5 to 10 points for some LEED rating systems.

In addition to the weighting exercise, the USGBC also used value judgments because if it only used the TRACI-NIST tool, some existing credits will be worth almost nothing, like the categories for human health and indoor air quality. The USGBC wanted to keep the LEED system somewhat consistent and retained the existing credits including those with few environmental benefits. So each credit was assigned at least one point in the new system.

There are NO negative values or fractions for LEED points.

For instance, 20% reduction of indoor water use used to be able to gain points, now this is a prerequisite in LEED 2009."

Do I need to do many practice questions to prepare for a LEED exam?

There is NO absolutely correct answer to your question. People learn in many different ways. Personally I am NOT crazy about doing a lot of practice questions: think about it, if you do 700 practice questions, you'll have to read 700 questions, and each question has at least 4 choices. That is at least 2,800 choices and it means a lot of words for you to read. I have seen some third party materials that have 1,200 practice questions. That will cost you even MORE time to go over the materials.

I prefer to spend most of my time to read, digest and really understand the fundamental materials, and MEMORIZE them naturally by reading the materials multiple times. This is because the fundamental materials for ANY exam will NOT change, and the scope of the exam will NOT change for the same main version of the test (until the exam moves to the next advanced version), but there are thousands of ways to ask you questions.

If you have a limited amount of time and effort like most people, it is more efficient for you to focus on the fundamental materials and actually master the knowledge that GBCI wants you to learn. If you can do that, then no matter how GBCI changes the exam format or how GBCI asks you the questions, you will do fine in the exam.

"Strategy 101 for the LEED Green Associate Exam is that you must recognize that you have only a limited amount of time to prepare for the exam. So, you must concentrate your time and effort on the most important content of the LEED Green Associate Exam...

The key to passing the LEED Green Associate Exam, or any other exam, is to know the scope of the exam, and not to read too many books. Select one or two really good books and focus on them. Actually understand the content and memorize it. For your convenience, I have underlined the fundamental information that I think is very important. You definitely need to memorize all the information that I have underlined. You should try to understand the content first, and then memorize the content of the book by reading it multiple times. This is a much better way than "mechanical" memory without understanding. ..

Most people fail the exam NOT because they cannot answer the few "advanced" questions on the exam, but because they have read the information but canNOT recall it on the day of the exam. They spend too much time preparing for the exam, drag the preparation process on too long, seek too much information, go to too many websites, do too many practice questions and too many mock exams (one or two sets of mock exams can be good for you), and spread themselves too thin. They end up missing out on the most important information of the LEED exam, and they will fail."

---Quoted from pages XIV, XV and 3 of "LEED BD&C Exam Guide"

To me, Memorization and Understanding helps each other. Understanding always comes first. If you really understand something, then Memorization is really easy.

For example, I'll read a book's first chapter very slowly but make sure I REALLY understand everything in it. I'll take whatever it takes for me to REALLY understand the materials, I do NOT care others are much faster than me in reading it. Then, I'd re-read the first chapter again. This time, the reading is so much easier, and I can read it much faster, and then I'll try to re-tell the content in my own language: I re-tell the substance, not the formats or particular order of things. This is a very good way for me to understand and digest the materials, and ABSORB and TAKE the content with me.

I'll repeat the same procedure for each chapter, and then keeping re-read the book until I take the exam. This achieves two purposes:

1. I keep reinforcing the important materials that I already have memorized, and fight against human brain's natural tendency to forget things.

2. I also understand the content of the book much better by reading it multiple times.

If you asked me to memorize something without understanding it first, it'll be very hard for me to memorize it; Even if I memorize it, it'll be very easy for me to forget it.

I always find doing too many practice questions takes too much time and is not efficient. Doing one or 2 sets of practice questions can be helpful, NOT 7 sets or 12 sets.

This is my suggestion, and it may help you.

Copyright 2010 Gang Chen, Author, AIA, LEED AP BD+C

Strategies for preparing for LEED AP BD+C Exam

LEED AP BD+C Exam is very hard.  There are several strategies for preparing for LEED AP BD+C Exam:

1. Bare bone strategy:
This strategy is bold, risky, but effective, low cost, and takes the least amount of time. You can spend about two weeks to prepare and pass the exam:

a.       Download and read the latest candidate handbook for LEED AP BD+C Exam
b.      Study the FREE PDF files listed at the end of the latest candidate handbook for LEED AP BD+C Exam (About 20% to 30% of the test content will come from these materials).
c.       Study my books, “LEED BD&C Exam Guide” and “LEED BD&C Mock Exam” (Covers the fundamental and most important information of the remaining 70% to 80% of test content will come from these materials).
d.      Do NOT buy or read the USGBC reference guide AT ALL

a.       Save time and money and still have a good chance of passing. In fact, a number of my readers did pass the exam using this approach.
b.      You can prepare and pass the exam in about two weeks.

a.       Your score may not be as high as you want since you COMPLETELY skip the USGBC reference guide (probably range from 170 to 180).
b.      You may feel nervous during the real exam. You may swear that you fail in the exam, and end up passing. You may have no clue why you pass but I know why you pass the exam though: my books cover the fundamental and most important information of the exam and set up a solid foundation for your LEED knowledge.

2. Middle of the road strategy:
This strategy is exactly the same as bare bone strategy, except that you do the following extra things:

a.       Buy or read portion of the USGBC reference guide to supplement my two books:
Only refer to or read the USGBC reference guide for items you have questions, or for detailed information not covered by my books such as the Sections on Implementation and Calculations. I skip these two sections in my book, “LEED BD&C Exam Guide” because it takes too much time for you to read the information, and I think you should be able to handle most of the tasks covered in these two sections if you MASTER the other sections.
b.   Do a few extra sets of mock exams.

a.       Save time and money and still have an excellent chance of passing. In fact, many readers did pass the exam using this approach.
b.      You can prepare and pass the exam in about two to four weeks.

a.       Your score may not be as high as you want (probably range from 170 to 185).
b.      You may still feel nervous during the real exam.

3. Comprehensive strategy:
This strategy is exactly the same as bare bone strategy, except that you do the following extra things:

a.       Buy or read portion of the USGBC reference guide from cover to cover several times.
b.      Write your own notes or create your own spread sheets based on the USGBC reference guide.
c.       Do every set of mock exams that you can find.

a.       You have an excellent chance of passing if you can REALLY read the reference guide. In fact, several readers did pass the exam using this approach.

a.       Your score may be either very high or very low (probably either range from 180 to 200, OR fail).
b.      You need to spend two months or more to prepare and pass the exam.
c.       You drag the exam prep process too long, and become tired of reading the USGBC reference guide, OR you can NOT find enough time to read the reference guide, OR have forgotten about the information that you read earlier by the time you take the exam, and you end up failing the exam.