The Letter Drop

Letters “‘X’ as in ‘extra,'” the man said as he relayed to me a series of nonword-forming letters comprising a passcode.
I missed the next few letters because he had caught me off guard, wondering who had removed the “e” from “extra” when I wasn’t looking. Perhaps it was being loaned to retired X-ray technicians (as in “eX-rayers”).

Poor Noah Webster must be turning in his grave like a pig on a spit the way people drop consonants and vowels like hot potatoes these days: LOL, OMG, TMI — on and on it goes. But the people who gravitate toward truncation these days (you know who I mean, of course, but I don’t want to start a generational debate) are not the only ones who challenge the word-accustomed brain.

Someone on staff at SDHGL — See? I can do it too! — referred to the growing prevalence of the “acronym soup.” In the architectural/design world, we see strings of letters such as AIA (The American Institute of Architects — and, hey, shouldn’t it be TAIA?), NKBA (National Kitchen & Bath Association), ASID (American Society of Interior Designers), ASLA (American Society of Landscape Architects), BIA (Building Industry Association) and the USGBC’s LEED AP (United States Green Building Code’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional).

Because the latter acronym is itself cumbersome, architects and designers opt for just using “AP,” which obviously makes for a less-cluttered business card. If you are curious and have the time, you can read all about LEED and its cornucopia of designations online; but for those who don’t have the time to sift through web pages, here’s my “truncated” version:

Let’s start with LEED. Building projects can quality for different LEED certification levels. The first level of certification is certified, which seems redundant and makes me wonder why it isn’t bronze when the next three levels are silver, gold and platinum. This might make a good trick question on an IQ test. Which of the following does not belong in the same group as the others: (a) certified, (b) silver, (c) gold, (d) platinum, (e) none of the above. Marilyn vos Savant probably would know the correct answer is (e), but I bet a lot of other people with high IQs would answer (a). In any event, let’s leave that to the No School Left Behinders to resolve and move on to the AP designation.

Now, in order to tag “AP” behind your name, you have to pass exams, beginning with the 100-question LEED Green Associate exam. And not just anyone can take the exam; you have to have worked on a LEED-registered project and pay application and exam fees.

Once you pass that test, you can pay more application and exam fees and take a 200-question specialty test (such as one for building design and construction or one for interior design and construction).

Solana Beach-based ASID member Kristianne Watts took the AP exam in 2009 because, she says, “I wanted to expand my education and keep up with the whole industry on being green and how designers can contribute to that. And I wanted to bring awareness to others about what it means to be green.”

STYHI (So there you have it).


PS: You may also see the acronym CAPS on the business card of an architect or interior designer. It stands for Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist) and it’s issued by the NAHB (National Association of Home Builders).