Architectural Acronyms

Here are few of the more prominent acronyms within the architectural and building professions as well as the meanings behind them.


What do AIA, AIBD, & IIDA stand for?

Those are acronyms for some of the various professional organizations within the building industry. They are not licensing bodies. Here is a quick rundown some of the more notable national and regional organizations. Click on any one of them to learn more:

  • AIA, American Institute of Architects
  • AIBD, American Institute of Building Design
  • CSI, The Construction Specifications Institute
  • COBA, Central Oregon Builders Association
  • COICC, Central Oregon chapter of the International Code Council
  • HDDC, High Desert Design Council
  • IIDA, International Interior Design Association
  • LEED, Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design
  • NAHB, National Association of Home Builders
  • OHBA, Oregon Home Builders Association

The use of professional association acronyms in titles and on websites, business cards, letterheads, etc. should not be confused with licensure. For example, not all AIA members are licensed architects. The AIA has different levels of membership and some of its members are students, some are interns, and others are non-licensed associate members. Conversely, not all architects are AIA members. Though I purchase and use documents created by the AIA, I am not actually a card-carrying member at this time (though I am considering joining).

I am a member of NCARB (National Council of Architectural Registration Boards). NCARB is a national organization that oversees the individual State Boards.  The various components of the Architectural Registration Exam (ARE) are developed under the supervision of NCARB. The exam is administered at State level and each State has its own rules and statues governing the practice of architecture as well as the use of the architect title. NCARB certification can often expedite reciprocity - the process through which one can offer his or her professional services in different jurisdictions (i.e. States) after earning an initial license. I believe the equivalent organization for interior designers is NCIDQ (National Council for Interior Design Qualification). For more, check out this article by Lewis Parrott on how to become an interior designer.


What about NCBDC?

The NCBDC is a testing program developed by the American Institute of Building Design (AIBD) for its members. It is a certification program. It is not a license to practice architecture.


What about LEED?

The LEED program is also a certification program and not a license. It certifies buildings for different levels of sustainable building practices as well as industry professionals for their knowledge of those practices.

This AIA blog post expands on some of the more commonly used credentials including the different flavors of CSI, LEED, and AIA certifications/memberships.

Back to the Architectural FAQ.