From certifications to industry associations, the architecture and engineering fields are full of acronyms. There are countless licenses and accreditations architecture and engineering professionals must hold in order to be successful, and these accreditations are often referred to by their abbreviations.

However, there are other acronyms that are commonly used that stretch far beyond professional titles. When deciphering a set of architectural drawings, you’re likely to come across a handful of abbreviations that will make your head spin unless you have direct experience in the field. If you’ve hired an architect or engineer for a project, it’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed by lingo.

In this post, we’ll dive in to those acronyms, what they mean, and why they should matter to you if you’re looking to hire a design professional.

LEED Accreditation

What Does LEED AP Stand for in Architecture?

LEED AP Stands for Leadership in Energy and Environment Design Accredited Professional. In other words, it’s a designation that indicates whether a project or architectural design professional meets the standards established by members of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). LEED Accredited Professionals have passed examinations and demonstrate a thorough understanding of green building design practices.

If you’re hiring an architectural design expert, be sure to ask them if they are LEED Accredited. This professional designation indicates that the designer knows what they’re doing when it comes to green building design. Not only are LEED Accredited professionals well-versed in the USGBC standards, but they’re also more likely to be educated on overall design efficiency and sustainability.

On the other side of the coin, if you’re currently pursuing an architecture degree, consider becoming LEED Accredited before you begin your job search. This will differentiate you from other industry newcomers and show that you are committed to the future design of your community.

Architecture and Engineering Title Acronyms

You may have noticed that architects and engineers often have a series of acronyms following their name on their business card or LinkedIn profile. These designations indicate the level of professional licensure the individual holds, and any relevant associations they belong to. These are all important qualifications to consider when selecting a design professional.

These are some of the most commonly used acronyms that are associated with the professionals who practice architecture and engineering:

PE (Professional Engineer)

A professional engineer is an engineer who’s licensed by their state’s licensure board.  The United States requires this license for all engineers working on public facilities. To earn it, an engineer must have a bachelor’s degree, experience working under a professional engineer for at least four years and have passed several competency exams.

SE (Structural Engineer)

A structural engineer designates the professional licensure of, you guessed it, structural engineers. Several states differentiate structural engineers from other professional engineers and require special licenses as a result. Illinois is one of those states.

CEM (Certified Energy Manager)

A certified energy manager is an individual that has demonstrated elevated professional experience, competency, ethics and a depth of knowledge on the principles and practices of energy management. The Association of Energy Engineers awards the designation and requires individuals meet a series of qualifications and pass an exam.

CPD (Certified Plumbing Designer)

A certified plumbing designer is an international certification that insures the competencies and qualification of engineers and designers of plumbing systems. This designation also serves as recognition of professionals with advanced skills specifically in designing plumbing systems.

AIA (The American Institute of Architects)

The American Institute of Architects is a professional organization for architects in the United States. The institute has nearly 300 state and local chapters that seek to serve as the voice of the architecture profession and as a resource for its members.

NCARB (National Council of Architectural Registration Boards)

The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards is a nonprofit corporation consisting of the legally constituted architectural registration boards. In order for an architect earn certification by the NCARB, he or she must meet educational, training, testing and ethics standards.

REFP (Recognized Educational Facility Planner)

A Recognized Educational Facility Planner is a professional designation granted through the Council of Educational Facility Planners International (CEFPI). It recognizes successful achievements and continual professional development efforts in education facility planning.

Other Construction Industry Acronyms

In the architecture and engineering world, it’s also common to use acronyms when referring to various regulations, processes, and materials. Here are some of the most commonly used acronyms that are used on-the-job in the architecture and engineering industries:

  • ADA: Americans with Disability Act
  • ARE: Architect Registration Examination
  • ASME: American Society of Mechanical Engineers
  • CAD: Computer-Aided Design
  • CD: Construction Documents
  • DD: Design Development
  • DOE: Department of Energy
  • Gyp: Gypsum
  • ICC: International Code Council
  • MEP: Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing
  • Mezz: Mezzanine
  • MFG: Manufacturing
  • MOW: Measurement Over Wires
  • NTS: Not to Scale
  • PM: Project Manager
  • PRCST: Precast
  • RFI: Request For Information
  • RFP: Request For Proposal
  • ROW: Right of Way
  • SD: Schematic Design
  • Specs: Specifications
  • VOC: Volatile Organic Compounds


This guide only scratches the surface of the abbreviations that are used in the architecture and engineering industries. Whether you’re an aspiring construction professional or you’re simply trying to educate yourself on the industry, be sure to keep this guide handy.

Not to mention, we’re extremely proud of the letters behind the names of our in-house architects and engineers. They symbolize years of education and industry expertise. Here’s our Kluber acronyms:

  • Michael Kluber – PE, CEM, LEEP AP
  • Donald Ware – PE, CPD, LEED AP
  • Jeffrey Bruns – SE, LEED AP
  • Christopher Hansen – AIA, NCARB
  • Clayton Haldeman – AIA, REFP, LEED AP
  • Charli Johnsos – AIA, NCARB, REFP, MBA


Meet Our Team