GBCI begins testing for new LEED professional credentials. The Green Building Certification Institute last week began testing candidates who wish to pursue credentials through the new LEED Green Associate or LEED Accredited Professional Operations and Maintenance programs. The LEED Green Associate program is intended for individuals seeking knowledge and skills in the non-technical fields of green practice. LEED AP O+M is for those seeking advanced knowledge in sustainable operations and specialized expertise in greening existing buildings.Architects rank durability over 'green' in product attributes. Architects say durability is the most important attribute for a green building product, according to a new industry survey commissioned by PPG Industries. Durability was followed by Energy Star compliance, life cycle assessment, no- or low-volatile organic compound (VOC) content, and the ability to source products regionally.Architecture Billings Index falls slightly in April, but shows market improvement. After an eight-point jump in March, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) fell less than a full point in April. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the April ABI rating was 42.8, down from the 43.7 mark in March. This was the first time since August and September 2008 that the index was above 40 for consecutive months. The new projects inquiry score, however, was positive at 56.8.ASHRAE's building energy label set to launch in June. A label for grading commercial buildings according to their energy efficiency is being developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). The label, due out in June, will measure both the design efficiency and operational performance of buildings, similar to the government's Energy Star program.AIA names bus shelter, restroom, Cleveland Arts Center among small project winners. The American Institute of Architects has selected 20 recipients of the 2009 Small Project Awards, including: the Media Arts Center in Cleveland, Ohio, by Robert Maschke Architects; the Public Bus Shelters of New Haven Conn., by David Thompson Architects; and the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail restroom facility in Austin, Texas, by Miro Rivera Architects. See below for more on restrooms.Half of U.S. design firms cut staff, profit margins stabilize. Half of architecture, engineering, and environmental consulting firms cut staff in 2008, while profit margins on net service revenue remained virtually unchanged from 2007 to 2008, according to ZweigWhite's newly released 2009 Financial Performance Survey.DOE sets partnership with hospitals for energy efficiency. The U.S. Department of Energy has launched the Hospital Energy Alliance (HEA), an industry-led partnership between the DOE and national healthcare sector leaders to promote the integration of advanced energy efficiency and renewable technologies in hospital design, construction, retrofit, operations, and maintenance.More than 30 new Marriott hotels seek LEED certification. Marriott International recently announced that its global headquarters building in Bethesda, Md., and more than 30 of its hotels in design or development or under construction are expected to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.