Certified GeoExchange Designer Certification is the most prestigious credential that exists within the geothermal heat pump industry because few people have it.  It’s hard to get because you can’t sit for the exam without some combination of education and experience (these requirements are explained in detail below).  It’s also really hard to understand the process of getting it, which turns a lot of people off.  Don’t be afraid!  Read this and you’ll know what it takes to get “CGD” next to your name on your next proposal.

We see two groups who stand to benefit the most from earning the CGD credential:

Group 1: Engineers Bidding on Schools and Government Projects

For a long time, the CGD was simply a matter of pride.  There were 100 or so engineers in the world that identified as geothermal experts and they communicated that to the rest of the world by earning the CGD credential.  More recently, as the market for university and government projects has been heating up, it has been showing up as a requirement on commercial-scale RFPs.  HeatSpring alumni have reported seeing RFPs with a CGD requirement in Massachusetts, New York, and several other major markets.  It’s usually a risk-averse institution like a college or municipal client that requires it.  Restricting the bid list to Certified Designers, especially in a specific state or region, means there are only a small handful of potential bidders.  If your company likes to bid these projects, you’re likely to need somebody you work with to get their CGD.  If you fall into this first group, meaning you have an engineering degree, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Fill out and submit your application to sit for the CGD Exam ($250)
  2. Take the 20 hour CGD Prep Course
  3. Pass the CGD Exam

Group 2:  Geothermal designers & installers with deep experience that want to stand out in the market

Greg Beach with GeoHydro Supply has been designing and installing high-quality geothermal heat pump systems for the past 22 years.  He recently inquired about taking the CGD exam to help them communicate their expertise more clearly.   It turns out engineers don’t appreciate input from a well drilling company on how to correctly size a geothermal system (can you believe it!?!), even when they have 22 years of experience.  Greg felt the CGD credential would help earn them respect within the design and installation team, which I completely agree with.

When you apply to sit for the CGD exam based on your experience, you’ll need to prove that you have that experience.  Here’s how: you need to provide all of the details for at least three projects over the past ten years, including: Address, owner details, heating and cooling load calculations, ground loop design software used, schedule of equipment used, and several other small details.

What if you haven’t been keeping all of that data and information?  Well, you need to pull it together.  We’re offering up our Geothermal Designer Boot Camp as a way to pull your portfolio together and organize it for you CGD application.

To summarize the required steps for the geothermal legacy applicants, here’s how you get your CGD:

  1. Organize and document your portfolio of experience (at least 3 jobs over 10 years)
  2. Fill out and submit your application to sit for the CGD Exam ($250)
  3. Take the 20 hour CGD Prep Course
  4. Pass the CGD Exam

Important Logistical Point

Training and the exam can happen in parallel with your application to AEE and IGSHPA.  If you pass the exam before you’re approved by the AEE, you are a “GeoExchange Designer In-Training” until your approval comes through.

I’ve met so many smart engineers and experienced geo junkies that could, and should, have their CGD.  I’ve been researching and thinking about this a lot in hopes that we could simplify the process for those who want it – so feel free to reach out to me directly if you have any questions about the CGD: bhayden@heatspring.com or 800-393-2044 x44.