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Deciphering Designers’ “Alphabet Soup”

Posted by Lisa Lipschutz on Jan 29, 2014

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ABCs of Design

Published by Facility Care, November 14, 2013

We all know what MD and PhD stand for after someone’s name. Have you ever wondered what the initials behind your architect’s or interior designer’s name mean? It may be important for your next project, as some designations indicate specialized knowledge regarding healthcare design.

Membership Affiliation

In many cases, the letters are abbreviations for professional associations. The letters AIA, for example, indicate that the architect is a dues‐paying member of the American Institute of Architects. Professionals must be licensed to join (meaning you will see an “RA” after their name), and membership indicates they are members of a recognized organization. Some licensed architects who do not belong to the American Institute of Architects choose to join the Association of Licensed Architects. They use the acronym ALA.

Letters That Show Licenses

In other cases, the letters indicate that the professional has passed exams or met other important requirements for licensing or certification. An RA, for example, is a registered architect. A registered architect has completed an internship and passed a rigorous series of examinations offered by official architectural registration boards in the United States and Canada. Members of AIA and ALA are usually RAs, but not all RAs are members of AIA or ALA.

Healthcare-Specific Affiliations

Below is a listing of abbreviations specific to healthcare design and why they are important to your next project.

ACHA: Member, American College of Healthcare Architects

The American College of Healthcare Architects provides board certification for architects who practice as healthcare specialists. Before earning the ACHA Board Certificate, healthcare architects must document their experience and demonstrate their skills through an examination. ACHA requires its certificate holders to work towards the improvement of healthcare architecture on behalf of the public, to practice in an ethical manner, to maintain high standards of specialized continuing education and to add to the body of knowledge. To date, fewer than 500 licensed architects have achieved ACHA certification through the rigorous process of demonstrated work history, references, a portfolio submittal, intensive testing and independent review.

AAHID: Member, American Academy of Healthcare Interior Designers

The American Academy of Healthcare Interior Designers is recognized by the healthcare industry as the leading certification board in assessing and qualifying the knowledge, skills and abilities of healthcare interior designers. Board-certified healthcare interior designers are distinguished and qualified by education, examination and work experience to practice healthcare interior design. Healthcare administrators seek AAHID‐certified designers knowing they are fully qualified and experienced in healthcare design.

EDAC: Evidence-Based Design-Accredited Professional

The Center for Health Design’s internationally recognized EDAC program awards credentials to individuals who demonstrate a thorough understanding of how to apply an evidence‐based process to the design and development of healthcare settings, including measuring and reporting results.

LGB: Lean Green Belt-Accredited Professional

An LGB-accredited individual has successfully completed Lean Six Sigma courses and submitted a test project to receive certification.

LEED AP: LEED-Accredited Professionals

A LEED-certified project has been documented to meet the standards established by members of the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED-accredited design professionals have passed examinations that demonstrate their understanding of “green” (environmentally friendly) building practices and concepts. There are various categories, depending on career focus, including LEED Green Associate, LEED Accredited Professional with Specialty (building design and construction, interior design and construction, etc.) and LEED Accredited Professional Fellow. These focused perspectives of a design team bring the most meaningful sustainable efforts and solutions to each project.

CSI: Certified Construction Specifier

To be certified, the construction professional must pass examinations offered by the Construction Specification Institute. Array’s project managers and technical architects are often certified by this organization.

Other Design Affiliations

Below is a list of acronyms frequently found in the design industry.

  • ASHRAE: Member of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers.
  • ASID: Member of the American Society of Interior Designers.
  • ASIS: Member of the American Society for Industrial Security.
  • ASLA: Member of the American Society of Landscape Architects.
  • ASPE: Member of the American Society of Plumbing Engineers.
  • CBO: Certified Building Official. A CBO is a municipal building code enforcement official who has passed certification exams. Some parts of the United States require that code enforcement officials hold CBO certification.
  • CCCA: Certified Construction Contract Administrator. To be certified, the construction professional must have passed CSI tests to demonstrate ability in administering all phases of construction contracts.
  • CCM: Certified Construction Manager. This person has education and work experience that meets the criteria of the Construction Manager Association of America.
  • CCS: Certified Construction Specifier. To be certified, the construction professional must pass examinations offered by the CSI.
  • CIPE: Certified in Plumbing Engineering.
  • CPBD: Certified Professional Building Designer. Professional building designers, also known as home designers, specialize in designing single-family homes, light-frame buildings and decorative facades. The CPBD title means that the designer has completed training courses, practiced building design for at least six years and passed a rigorous certification exam. A CPBD is not necessarily a licensed architect. However, a CPBD is usually qualified to design an uncomplicated, traditional home.
  • EIT: Engineer in Training. This refers to graduates of engineering programs who have passed licensing exams but do not yet have the required four years’ experience to be a licensed professional engineer. In New York EITs are commonly called intern engineers. In Florida they are called engineer interns.
  • IALD: Member of the International Association of Lighting Designers.
  • IIDA: Member of the International Interior Design Association.
  • NCARB: Certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. To be certified, a registered architect must meet rigorous standards for education, training, testing and ethics. Not all licensed architects are NCARB certified.
  • NCCE: Member of the National Council of Engineering Examiners.
  • NCIDQ: National Council for Interior Design Qualification.
  • NFPA: Member of the National Fire Protection Association.
  • NSPE: Member of the National Society of Professional Engineers.
  • PE: Professional Engineer. This engineer has completed the training, exams and fieldwork required to be fully licensed. PE certification is required for any engineer in the United States who works on projects that will affect the public.
  • ACHE: Member of the American College of Healthcare Executives. The American College of Healthcare Executives is an international professional society of more than 40,000 healthcare executives who lead hospitals, healthcare systems and other healthcare organizations. ACHE offers a FACHE® credential, signifying board certification in healthcare management.

Topics: Licensure, Architecture, Interior Design, Continuous Improvement

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