95+ FREE Online LEED CMP Continuing Education (CE) Hours


How I learned to stop worrying and just self report

One of the biggest initial complaints about the new LEED Credentialing Maintenance Program (CMP) was that people who sign up were going to have a pay substantial sums to get their Continuing Education (CE) hours. While free opportunities are still not widespread, there are now enough free resources out there on the internets to get you through about 6 years worth of hours. I'm talking specifically about CE hours that have been approved by an official Education Review Body (ERB). There are a multitude of other ways to get free credits (volunteering, attending or developing non-approved presentations, college classes, authorship, or LEED project participation), but most have limitations on the number of hours you can earn under that section per 2 year CMP term. ERB approved hours can constitute 100% of the hours you need in a given term, so the references below are in a way more useful than others. For more details on LEED credentialling maintenance in general, I strongly suggest reading the official CMP Guide. All courses require self reporting. There will eventually be a post about my experience so far with the CMP process, but that takes a long time to get right and I'm lazy.

Studying Stinks

My prediction for what 95% of LEED APs will look like the night before their credits are due.

The USGBC maintains a course catalog that updates whenever a program earns CE approval. You can filter the search results by subject, format, LEED credit, duration, and a few other parameters, but unfortunately you cannot filter by cost. All results will show both paid and free webinars, articles, or workshops listed together. The following list was developed mostly by me scanning through this catalog formats that feature online classes (e.g. webinars, articles, and online courses). Unfortunately direct linking isn't an option for many of these courses, so in some instances you will need to visit the course catalog and follow the instructions below to access the courses:

  • AEC Daily
    • 52 approved courses
    • Hosts courses typically developed by manufacturers. Easy to use and an excellent source for just about every other continuing education body imaginable (AIA, CSI, IDCEC, etc.). You can filter results by other education bodies here.
  • Energy University by Schneider Electric
    • 22 approved courses
    • The USGBC Course Catalog shows 22 approved courses, though the total offerings on the Schneider site show 25 classes, so I would recommend using the course catalog to make sure the classes you take are approved. Most of these courses deal with HVAC and electrical engineering issues... go figure!
  • McGraw Hill -> "Advanced Options" -> Select McGraw-Hill Construction from the "Providers" list -> Click "Go"
    • 18 approved courses
    • Basically a bunch of articles and online courses that are also available in their Architectural Record and Greensource publications. Many of the courses also earn AIA credits.
  • Environmental Design + Construction -> "Advanced Options" -> Select Environmental Design and Construction from the "Providers" list -> Click "Go"
    • 3 approved courses
    • Very similar to McGraw Hill format and also offering AIA credits.
  • Leonardo Academy
    • 1 approved course
    • This live webinar is taking place on June 17th. Word from staff at Leonardo is that they'll be adding more classes in the future.

To be clear, there are free offerings in the course catalog that I've missed, as many manufacturers are starting to get on board with the new system and getting their lunch and learns up to date... Please don't hesitate to spam the comments if you have a course offering that I've missed, but you can only advertise if it's completely FREE to attend!


Unknown said...

Thanks for posting this information. The good news is that the catalog of approved courses is growing every day! Since the beginning of 2010, we've had a 85% growth in USGBC Eduction Providers and a 130% growth in approved courses from these educators. Today there are 937 approved courses; it is growing exponentially.

USGBC is working hard to expand not only the number of courses, but the topics, formats and learning levels of continuing education courses approved to support your LEED credential. The course catalog is also being assessed for better usability - helping you to find the courses that meet your professional needs.

You're absolutely right. CMP isn't that hard, or expensive. Thanks for breaking this down for us all!

Unknown said...

Thank you, Joel - I get asked this question a lot, and now I have an answer! Great info, as always -


Mona said...

Hello, Joel and Ryan. I am a LEED AP BD+C (after opting in last year). Can you help me understand where on the CMP reporting chart I should record the following: 1) serving as the Project Administrator on a LEED 2009 New Construction project.
2) attending local USGBC chapter advocacy meetings. The reporting chart only lists the seven prescriptive categories, so I am unsure where to list these items. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

This question is for Ryan Snow - do all the ERB-approved courses that are listed in the USGBC course catalog qualify as "Professional development courses"? I ask because this is the only category (besides Authorhship) that allows unlimited hours. Thanks.

joelmckellar said...


I've been in touch with folks at the GBCI about this very issue... There will be a post forthcoming explaining this in greater detail, but for now you should know that I was told not to get too hung up on having everything you submit fit perfectly within the categories. They are aware that the categories are not comprehensive and that there is no way to currently enter things like Project administration under the reporting system. There is now an 'other' sub-category under each of the seven primary categories that is helpful. I would suggest (note that I'm not an official source) submitting both the Administrator work and the advocacy meetings under the "Project surrounding and Public Outreach" under the "other" subcategory.


Again, I'm not an official representative, but I'm certain that all things listed on the CMP course guide qualify as professional development courses.

Anonymous said...

Awesome post. I've been trying to get my local chapter to hold a session on this to no avail. I would even volunteer if it gave me CMP credits.

Question: Has anyone heard about CMP credits earned being applied to more than one specialization? For example, you carry both the BD+C and one other specialization? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Another good resource is www.greence.com. They have a lot of approved courses.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone recommend any sessions in specific which are dynamic and enjoyable for a larger office? I have found many of the free items to be over poor quality.

Unknown said...

Another directory of several free courses:


Francis said...

Very interesting topic, thank you!

Anonymous said...

Are those lists include some LEED specific courses?

Have you find any 'LEED specific course' in free?

Please guide me if I miss something.


Anonymous said...

trane.com has 6 hours worth of leed-specific courses - all HVAC related. that's all i've found so far...

Ella Stelter said...

There is 1.5 hrs of LEED specific credit available for free on USGBC's webinar site. It is the one that compares codes, standards, and rating systems.

Rachel said...

I FREE CE Hour for reading a GBCI approved article: "LEED V4 - An analysis of expected changes related to HVAC"


Anonymous said...

Can anyone expand on university courses and CE. I'm taking courses towards an MS in Sustainability and the CMP guide says courses can count but I'm not clear if it breaks down by weekly content for e.g.. One class I'm taking we spent 2 hours on stormwater management, another 2 hours on energy efficiency etc. Can I use that one class for 2 hours here and 2 hours there or do I need to find a subcategory that will encompass the full semester - 24 hours?

Anonymous said...

Not sure about the specialty credentials, but you can watch some youtube videos and attend university courses and presentations and get some credits for the general hours needed to renew the Green Associate credential. See http://corporaterealestategroup.com/2013/02/13/leed-self-reported-credential-maintenance/ and also check the CMP guide linked to there. I talked to someone at GBCI and they concurred---it has to be a specific LEED topic where you actually get some depth.

Claire said...

Thanks for posting a great list of free LEED continuing education. I also have written a list with some more free options here: http://www.poplarnetwork.com/news/4-free-leed-continuing-education-options

Poplar Network said...

Check out this list of 75 additional LEED continuing education options: http://poplarnetwork.com/edu/blog/leed-continuing-education-75-options-earning-your-hours

Anonymous said...

Don't forget to check out AEC Daily, they offer various FREE LEED courses that you can take online and they are only an hour long! http://aecdai.ly/3z