How I aced the LEED Green Associate Exam

LEED Green Exam

Knowing what to study for the LEED Green Associate exam can be pretty tough. There’s a lot of information out there that ranges from highly technical to very broad. Since I aced the test, I want to point you in the right direction so you’re spending your time studying the right stuff so you can ace the exam too.

First?  A quiz for you to assess where you’re currently at.  The 25 question quiz below randomly selects questions from a growing library.  So every time you take the quiz, it will be different.  You can use the quiz to gauge where you’re at or use it as a study tool itself.  If you do poorly, you might want to look into the resources below. Without further adieu…  Good luck!

Find this quiz helpful? Checkout the premium LEED Green Associate practice exam bundle!

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Key Study Materials

  • LEED Green Associate Study Guide & Core Concepts.  Directly from the horses mouth, the study guide from LEED.  It’s a great foundation to start from but admittedly won’t fully prepare you for the test.  There is a ton of more technical information that these two books leave out.  It’s also quite annoying that it’s essentially the same book split into two.  It makes you switch back and forth between the two.
  • GBES Online Practice Exams.  If you were to ask me, this is possibly the most important resource to invest in.  There are  different practice exams you can take and if you’re doing poorly in a particular category you can take a test of all the questions in that category.  There were a number of questions on the test directly from the practice exams.
  • LEED v4 Green Associate Mock Exams – If you still like to have physical resources this is a good resource to use to study from.
  • Designer Hacks Green Associate Visuals.  The hardest thing for me when studying was remembering all of the references and what those references meant.  I developed some visuals to help me study that proved to be pretty helpful.  If there’s interest, I’ll add more to it.
  • LEED Green Associate Exam Guide Audio – I have always had a long commute so I like audio guides.  It’s pricey but if you need or like to multi-task its worth it.

LEED Green Associate Exam

Other Study Materials

  • Green Exam Academy.  Pat Flynn over at the Green Exam Academy provides a lot of useful information about the test.  Although I didn’t use his materials to study for the test, I found myself back on his site often when trying to find out other information like… that the LEED GA exam has a pass rating of 95%… or that there are a total of 200 points available on the exam and a passing score is 170.
  • LEED Green Associate Candidate Handbook.  The USGBC touts this as being a must for the test.  I skimmed it and used it when I needed it.  Is a good preliminary resource if you’re on the fence about taking the test and want to see what it’s about.  It’s free and there are a few sample questions in it so you can see where you’re at and how much time you’ll have to dedicate to studying.  For heavens sake don’t think you can show up without any studying and ace the test.

The Key Themes of the LEED Green Associate Exam

  • There’s a general theme in LEED that parking and automobiles are bad.  Strategize to minimize the use of parking lots, incorporate mixed use parking garages, or make the surfaces pervious with high SRI (solar reflectance index) values.  Simply meaning let water run through your hardscapes and make sure they’re light in color so they aren’t retaining heat.
  • LEED does not supersede any local or national codes or regulations.  The USGBC makes it clear that LEED does not take precedence over any existing codes.
  • Know your refrigerants.  There are a ton of questions about refigerents.  Study them and know their Global Warming Potential (GWP) and Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) and their relationship to each other.
  • Sustainability costs no more… no less.  I ran across this in a number of questions simply phrased differently.  According to the USGBC, sustainable buildings are comparable in cost to conventional ones.


Tips When Taking The Exam

  • Pay close attention to keywords.  A lot of times you’ll notice the keywords ‘economic’ or ‘environmental’  give the answer away.
  • Mark questions.  During the test you can mark questions and go back to them at the end.  You’ll notice as you go through that some of the answers are revealed later questions.
  • Don’t drive yourself crazy.  If you don’t know an answer skip it and go back to it later.  There were a few questions I had a hard time understanding the first time around.  When I came back to them later they suddenly made sense and the answer was clear.

Hope this helps! Stay green hackers!

Have your own tips for taking the LEED Green Associate Exam? Leave a comment below!


  1. Matt123 January 14, 2017 at 12:39 pm #

    You aced the exam because at no point in your life has your brain been deprived of oxygen for 10 plus minutes. Seriously. That’s about the only way to fail.
    I took mine last year and after all the reading online I was scared. I bought practice tests, books, did hours of reading and studying.

    All this mess about the questions have several answers is a lie. EVERY SINGLE ONE of my questions had 1 answer. I rocked through the test in less than 20 minutes. I do have building/construction experience, but I remember the quality of the questions. Anyone using basic common sense and process of elimination can figure them out. I thought myself surely I’m not the lucky one who got the easy test? Nope, that’s just how the test is. But the internet likes to scare you, because they know you will buy study material.

    LEED has gotten a bad rap, and the deeper I get into green and natural building the more the joke of LEED is seen. Don’t waste your money or time on their “Green Associate” garbage and certainly don’t waste MORE money to keep up this phony “credential”

  2. Mike January 4, 2017 at 11:04 am #

    Hi Tony,

    I need to take 5.0 PPD & PDD. Do you plan on posting notes such as “Caroline’s Notes” that you had posted for the various 4.0 exams for either of those sections? I found those notes to be some of the best resources in studying for the 4.0 sections. If so any idea when? Thanks

  3. Stephen October 17, 2016 at 9:30 pm #

    Hi Tony,
    Any updates on the SS exam ? If there’s an expected release date ? Thanks

  4. DesignerHacks October 4, 2016 at 12:11 pm #


    We are releasing practice exams for the SS exam later this fall.


  5. Paige October 4, 2016 at 11:34 am #

    Will you have SS questions on here at some point?

  6. Daniel September 9, 2016 at 8:47 am #

    Great post, very helpful with the lists of suggested materials, I just passed CDs in July and am taking PPP in November so I definitely needed the list.

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