I passed the LEED Professional Accreditation exam.

So that's nice.

So for those hunched over Google in panic before taking it yourselves...hello. Everyone else can skip the next paragraph.

I found the Colorado Chapter's study guide excellent, the exam they provide for LEED v2.2 is a great preparation tool - it's heavy on the narrative questions and will have you hunting through the reference guide in search of deeper understanding, which is great. Watch out for swallowing all their answers whole - a couple of answers are, in my opinion, flat out wrong, but that could be down to typos more than anything. I haven't checked the errata.
The study guide was the best resource for usefulness per page - it has all the details of the LEED project procedures, CIRs, all of it. And there are plenty of questions on that stuff in the exam.
That and read the LEED Reference Guide. And again. And again. Until you can see the font in your dreams. Sounds dumb, but I passed with a 189 out of 200. So it works.
That's all, really. Good luck!

So...yeah! That's that done, and there are no exams on the horizon until April, and I'm going to need all that time to study - it's the Engineering Fundamentals exam you have to take as the first step to Professional Engineer status, which is roughly equivalent to Chartership in the UK. It's intended as an exam people take at or close to graduation - all the really technical stuff. And of course I wasn't IN the US when I graduated, so I have to wind myself back up to just-graduated levels on all that subject matter...and in Imperial Units.

Anyone for a metric revolution?
In the next eight months?

Keen To Be Green

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So I'm going to take ten minutes out from my busy studying schedule (so far today I have moved notes 5 times, fixed an unbroken microwave, eaten some anchovies, talked to my Mum on the phone for half an hour, talked to Krissa's parents for fifteen minutes, doodled incessantly) to tell you about the exam I'm taking tomorrow.

It's the LEED Accredited Professional exam, where LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and it's the scheme used to rate green buildings in the US, or it has been for the last seven years or so.
When you hear of new flagship skyscrapers going up in New York being toted as "LEED Gold" or, in the case of No. 7 World Trade, "LEED Platinum", this is the scheme used. It's all about designing the buildings to be as environmentally friendly as possible, use as few resources as possible and have as small a ecological footprint as possible.

"Buildings buildings buildings!" I hear you cry. "What of car pollution and smokestacks and jet engines and oil for breakfast? Hmm? You and your buildings, what can they do?"

Well, I say to you, opinionated and somewhat odd reader, that the time for me to wheel out the statistics is now at hand.
This is all out of the exceptionally helpful United States Green Building Council (USGBC) Colorado chapter study guide for LEED:

Commercial, institutional and residential buildings account for approximately:

-40% of global consumption of raw materials*
-37% of U.S. primary energy consumption
-68% of U.S. electricity consumption
-12% of U.S. potable water consumption, including 5 billion gallons a day for flushing toilets (I've noticed that the standard flush over here is HUGE in comparison to the UK one)
-136 million tons of construction and demolition debris annually - approximately 40% of all solid waste in America
-35% of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions

(* I find this one kind of hard to swallow, but I suppose buildings are sort of big in comparison to other things)

So as you can see, there's a metric f**kload of room for improvement and making a difference there.

So that's partly why I'm taking the exam - to get involved in the sorts of design decisionmaking that can make a difference to these numbers, one project at a time.

Rumour has it that the exam used to be a lot easier than it is now. To begin with they were trying to popularise LEED, to spread the word and get as many people involved as possible. There are tales of a 90% pass rate.
Now after what seems to have been a bit of a backlash against a too-easy qualification, the building accreditation scheme hasn't changed that much, but the exam has. A lot.
The sorts of questions we're talking about are like this:

For this question's answer, pick the three most useful options according to the examiner's opinion:
A) Obviously Wrong Thing
B) Correct Thing
C) Could be Correct Thing
D) Could be Correct Thing
E) Correct Thing
F) Could be Correct Thing

And if you don't get the precise three they want, you get NIL POINTS.
And the shade of distinction between the could-be-correct and correct answers is so tiny that it is the twinkle in the eye of a bacteria. And if you think bacteria don't have eyes then that's because YOU HAVEN'T LOOKED CLOSE ENOUGH TO SEE THE TINY TINY TINY EYES.

I've been doing practice exams and I'm getting a bit better at spotting the tricks and pitfalls, but because they're there at all, the impression the exam gives is very childish. Ahah, I think, there's another trick.
But I'm annoyed because I don't know what a pass grade is. There are 80 questions.

Here is an excerpt from the LEED exam FAQ:

Q: How is the LEED Professional Accreditation exam scored?
A: A scaled scoring process is used to score each exam. Scores can range from 125 to 200, but candidates must achieve at least a 170 to pass the exam. Note that the scaled score is neither the number of items correct nor percentage correct. USGBC reports scaled scores so that candidates know that a passing score of 170 is required to pass on each test. In this way, confusion about what is required to become a LEED Accredited Professional is avoided.

I think confusion has not been avoided.
I think confusion has been encouraged.
I think confusion has been invited around for a cup of tea and a chat.

Back to the books.
Wish me luck. I'll know if I've passed or not straight afterwards, so I'll let you know how I get on.

Sky Full Of Moon


I remember the all-nighters from university. I was more in love with the romance of staying up all night and seeing the different phases of the night life of the town than I was with the realities of the necessities of staying up all night to work.
Now...five years later...I'm all about the work.

Which is a shame, because my neighbourhood is at least ten times more romantically seductive.
But at least I feel better about the exam on Monday.

I'm listening to Dr. John's Loop Garoo. It fits the late night.

It's a dark, quiet night in Brooklyn, and I got work to do.

Upside-down Design


Hey you!
(translated from the original Neanderthal by Babelfish)


Need thing.

Excuse me?

Thing. Need thing to hit other thing into thing.

You couldn't be a bit more specific could you?
(In case you hadn't noticed, this imaginary situation takes place between one smart Neanderthal and a dumb one)

Need big thing to hit little thing into other big thing. To make thing.
(Not realistic? Come on, you know someone like this now)

Here you go.

What this?

Well it a rock, but in the branding package for Phase 2 Design we're calling it a 'Hammer'.

Hamm-er. It thing to hit little thing into other big thing?

Yes Marcus.

Hamm-er, HAMM-er. HAMM-er! It work, look.



So what the hell's all this then?

I think I'm going to call it a LASER.

What's a LASER when it's at home?

Well I took some light, right, and jiggled it backwards and forwards through some stuff, and then it shoots out of here in a really tight beam and it's crazy bright and it goes all the way to the other wall and hardly spreads out at all, look.

What's it for?

Um...well you know. It's bright and concentrated. Maybe we could...point it at things?

It's a flashlight?

No, no, no...like things, that are really far away, or really small?

It's a searchlight? Or a microscope?

Not really.

So it's not for anything at all.

Not as such.

So are you done? All finished? Can I have my storage room back now?


I think, when we're looking at innovation on the web or in technology...hell, in anything really, 'What can you do with this?' is a much better question than 'What is this for?'
People ask 'What is this for?' of Twitter and Facebooklast.fm all the time...while using them to bits, exploring them, learning how they can be used, what they can do...but still needing an answer to that question.
I don't think we do need an answer to that question any more.
It's a more playful way of doing things...in which case maybe the laser wasn't a great example...but it's a more interesting way of doing things. Exploring the possibilities is more engaging and exciting than learning how to do set things.
I always used to call foul on the putting green whenever my Dad would get down on his hands and knees to knock the golf ball in by using the club like a snooker cue. But it's like that. You take the tools you're given and you see what you can do with them.

With all these social networking sites, or sites with social networking underneath a patina of other function - friendster, facebook, linkedin, orkut, flickr, goodreads...once the boxes have all been ticked and the fields all filled in, a lot of people, including me, I have to confess, turn around and ask 'Now what?'
It's a good question and we should keep asking it in the hope that we'll discover what the answer is. Or try an answer on for size. Or try something new. Or unusual. Or approach it in a different way.
"What is it for?" is a demand, while "Now what?" can be a question to yourself.

So that those people you were too lazy to keep in touch with are now reading your blog, looking at your most recent music choices, looking at your photos from when you knew each other better, comparing their book lists with yours, swapping mixes with you and recommending a lot of different entertainment. And facebook, to choose one I've been thinking of throughout this post, have just opened the doors to third party applications. So there's even more scope and potential. The tool can change its shape and there is more to explore.

This is starting to sound like a Douglas Adams argument...I forget where it appeared... where he's talking about computers and how people react to them. To begin with they thought - oh look! It's a big calculator. Then a big typewriter. Then a big drawing device, an entertainment centre, encyclopedia...and in the end Adams asserted that a computer is a modeling device and it can 'be' anything we want.

If we're playful enough and experimental enough, maybe we can get to a point where the answer to the question, "What is it for?" can be, "Everything."

But the "it" in question probably won't be facebook.
Just so we're clear.


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