Beetle Green Consulting & Education

Certified Sustainable Building Advisor (CSBA) 
vs  LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP)

Which one is better?

That’s kind of like asking, “which is better: a soccer referee or a soccer coach?” Each has a different role. And while you technically don’t need either to play, both are very valuable and helpful – especially at a professional level.

So what’s the difference?
LEED is a rating system that certifies green buildings. There are many green building rating systems (Built Green, BOMA BESt, BREEAM, etc.) and LEED is currently respected and popular in Canada. Getting a building LEED certified requires a lot of documentation and tracking of the construction process to ensure specific standards are met. This gives LEED a lot of credibility. Technically, anyone can get a building LEED certified. But doing this work is much easier for someone who is a LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP) and it will save you time and money.

The Sustainable Building Advisor (SBA) certification equips building professionals (such as architects, engineers, contractors, developers, planners, building operators and owners, etc.) with the knowledge and experience to answer questions such as:
  • What green building rating system is best for our project?
  • How can I lower the budget on a green building and still achieve the project goals?
  • How can I take advantage of the local climate to make the building its most efficient?
  • How can I draw people to my building and keep them happy & comfortable so that they stay longer?
LEED is the soccer referee. SBA is the soccer coach. Both play critical roles in the game.

Should I get accredited as a LEED AP or certified as a CSBA?
It depends on the role you want to have in the design and build process.

If you want to ...
  • Work with measurement and verification on a LEED project
  • Compile and complete the documentation and submittals for a LEED project  
  • Get your name onto a directory of searchable professionals with the designation
...then LEED accreditation is a great fit.
If you want to ...
  • Complement your current skill set
  • Provide advice and guidance on improving the sustainability of a project
  • Establish a solid base for becoming an expert in any one area of sustainable design 
  • Gain on-site experience working on a green building project
  • Get your name onto a directory of searchable professionals with the designation
...then the SBA certification is a great fit.

I personally have both because each is unique and yet complimentary to the other.

I want to build a green building. Should I hire a LEED AP or a CSBA?
There are many different green building rating systems. If you know for sure that you want to pursue a LEED certification, then a LEED Accredited Professional can help you make that happen.

If you need help determining which green building rating system to use; or are concerned reducing toxins and improving indoor air quality; or want to increase productivity in a workspace or increase the amount of time individuals spend in a store; or simply want to know what kind of building will foster neighbourhood - an SBA would be a great fit.

How does one become a CSBA or a LEED AP?
The SBA certification consists of a 9-month course that includes local guest experts, local case studies, a hands-on building project, and a final exam. 

Getting LEED accredited requires writing and passing a 2-hour exam. There are numerous books and courses that will help you pass that exam. Once you pass the exam you’ll be required to complete learning credits every year to maintain your designation. Here’s the good news. The SBA program will get you two years worth of credits towards that LEED designation.

If you have any more questions, please ask.