Body of Knowledge

Body of Knowledge
ABCEP’s Body of Knowledge
The Body of Knowledge (BOK) describes the sum of knowledge with the environmental profession; including knowledge of proven standards and practices that are widely applied as well as knowledge of advanced innovative practices. ABCEP's BOK is managed on ABCEP’s Wiki Site and the entire membership is able to contribute to the BOK. It is a living document that is actively updated on a regular basis. For more information on how you can contribute to the BOK please contact
ABCEP’s Certification Review Board (CRB) determines if an applicant for a Certified Environmental Professional (CEP) designation possesses the requisite knowledge, skills and abilities through an evaluation of academic training, and evaluation of work history, a written examination, and an oral interview. The discussion below provides background information to potential applicants regarding these requirements and serves as a guide to members of the panels that conduct reviews of candidates for the CEP designation. The discussion addresses the minimum level of skills and training needed by applicants. This BOK, with which applicants must be familiar, is presented with sources of information that contribute to the knowledge base.
ABCEP requires that all applicants have a baccalaureate degree from an institution accredited by the Council on Post-Secondary Education or the equivalent. Due to the inter-disciplinary nature of the environmental profession, the degree may be in one of several different fields, including environmental management, environmental science, engineering, and related disciplines. When an applicant does not have a baccalaureate degree or if the degree is not in a relevant technical area, the CRB reviews any other degrees and/or the professional experience more closely to assure that the applicant has the academic and technical background equivalent to that obtained during study from an environmental or engineering related undergraduate degree.
The candidate must have a minimum of nine years of environmental or engineering experience, five of which must be in a position of responsible charge. This is evaluated through their responses to the section in the application on work history (a description of the work that they have done and a listing of reports and publications). The peer recommendations are also part of this evaluation. By requiring a minimum of nine years of work experience, ABCEP exceeds the standards set by the Council of Engineering and Scientific Specialty Boards for our accreditation. Their minimum requirement is eight years of experience for those without an engineering or equivalent degree: “Candidates for certification must hold a baccalaureate degree (accredited by an accrediting body recognized by the Council on Postsecondary Accreditation) in a field related to engineering (or equivalent) and possess a minimum of four years of practical experience in responsible charge of work in the specialty area. At the discretion of the certifying body, a supplementary examination or four years of related education and/or experience beyond the four-year minimum requirement may be accepted in lieu of an accredited degree.”
The CRB evaluates an applicant’s body of knowledge through a review of responses to essays relating to the applicant's area of expertise. While an environmental professional is expected to be knowledgeable about many areas, the CRB defines an applicant's core of expertise within five specialty (‘functional’) areas - one of which is where the applicant is employed. The applicant selects the one functional area, and with CRB’s concurrence, ABCEP grants certification for the functional area.
Definition of the knowledge base within each functional area of certification is based upon the premise that knowledge in our field is dynamic rather than static. Statutes come and go, and agency regulations promulgated to implement statutes change even more quickly. Therefore, an environmental professional must have:
Mastery of a core of technical principles and knowledge;
Knowledge of potential information sources necessary to elucidate technical developments;
Knowledge necessary to utilize found data and emerging research to support decision making, frequently in the context of regulatory and scientific uncertainty; and
Mastery of reasoning and presentation skills necessary to communicate with colleagues and members of the non-technical public effectively, with credibility and persuasiveness, both orally and in writing.
The CRB's procedure for defining knowledge comprising each of the attributes is described below:
A core of technical principles and knowledge:
The CRB certifies only environmental professionals who have demonstrated mastery of a core of principles and knowledge in an appropriate functional area. Documentation of such achievement is required, primarily in the form of official transcripts from an accredited institution of higher learning (a college or university). The transcripts must reflect completion of a technical degree in a study area applicable to the environmental professions, and are approved by the CEP candidate's Certification Review Panel. The CRB conducts an annual review of degrees and subject areas deemed appropriate for CEPs.
Information sources to elucidate technical developments:
Acquiring information in technical fields is typically accomplished via standard methods. Such methods include reading books and periodicals, attending seminars, participating in professional organizations, and in forums and other activities characterized by an exchange of information and viewpoints among participants. One essay question each candidate is required to answer is to describe how he or she keeps up with developments in his or her field. Candidate responses to this essay question have evolved, increasingly citing activities on the internet. The CRB has incorporated this category of activities into its judgment of CEP candidate responses. The CRB is receptive to other developments in information acquisition practices, as may be communicated from CEP candidates, CEPs outside of the CRB, CEPs within the CRB, and from other sources as we become aware of them. A list of these sources can be found at the end of this document. The CRB conducts an annual review, updating the list of those information sources that are the foundation of our profession.
Utilizing data and emerging research to support decision making:
The ability of a CEP candidate to utilize data and emerging research to support decision making is indicated via responses to essay questions, and quantified via their evaluation by Certification Review Panel members. Our examination philosophy recognizes that each CEP candidate has a unique professional role that determines the specific types of data and emerging research with which the candidate will be familiar. However, our examination philosophy also recognizes that, notwithstanding such uniqueness, each CEP candidate reasonably can be expected to know how to reason objectively, and how to utilize relevant evidence to make findings and draw conclusions. CEP candidates are expected to understand the concept of hypothesis testing, default assumptions, burden of proof, shifting of the burden of proof based upon the weight of evidence, and other forms of scientific and otherwise objective reasoning. These skills are widely if not universally recognized, and are unlikely to change substantially.
Reasoning and presentation skills for effective communication:
The ability of a CEP candidate to persuade colleagues, regulators, and members of the non-technical public via reasoned presentation of arguments both orally and in writing are skills addressed by our exam. Written exposition of each candidate’s analysis of technical issues is demonstrated via responses to essay questions, and quantified via their evaluation by Certification Review Panel members. Oral communication skills also are revealed, most notably via interviews with candidates conducted by their Lead Reviewers.
Certification by ABCEP as a CEP requires the candidate possess a Bachelor's Degree from an accredited institution of higher learning (a college or university). Appropriate degree areas for CEPs include:
City and Regional Planning
Civil Engineering
Dispute Resolution
Environmental Engineering
Environmental Sciences
Environmental Studies
Industrial Hygiene
Landscape Architecture
Law and Policy Studies
Physical Sciences
Public Administration
Social Sciences
Urban Studies
Water Resources Planning
Examples of technical and scientific peer-reviewed journals and other periodicals useful for CEPs:
American Fisheries Society Publications:
Journal of Aquatic Animal Health
North American Journal of Fisheries Management
American Geophysical Union Publications:
Global Biogeochemical Cycles
Journal of Geophysical Research
Reviews of Geophysics
Water Resources Research
American Industrial Hygiene Assn Journal
American Journal of Botany
American Naturalist
American Planning Association Journal
American Scientist
American Zoologist
Animal Conservation
Annals of Botany
Applied and Environmental Microbiology
Applied Vegetation Science
Aquatic Botany
Aquatic Ecosystem Health & Management
Arctic and Alpine Research
Basic and Applied Ecology
Behavioral Ecology
Biodiversity and Conservation Online
Biological Conservation
Biological Invasions
Botanical Journal of the Linnaean Society
Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology
Climatic Change
Community Ecology
Conservation Biology
Conservation Ecology
Earth Interactions
Ecological Abstracts
Ecological Bulletins
Ecological Economics
Ecological Engineering
Ecological Indicators
Ecological Research
Ecological Society of America (ESA):
Ecological Monographs
Ecological Applications
Ecological Archives
Ecology of Industrial Regions
Ecosystem Health
Environment and Development Economics
Environmental Conservation
Environmental Engineering and Policy
Environmental Health Perspectives
Environmental Impact Assessment Review
Environmental Modeling and Assessment
Environmental Pollution
Environmental Practice
Environmental Technology
Environmental Toxicology
Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science
Estuaries and Coasts
Forest Ecology and Management
Functional Ecology
Global Change Biology
Global Ecology and Bio geography
Global Environmental Change
Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal
International Journal of Plant Sciences
Journal of Animal Ecology
Journal of Applied Ecology
Journal of Arid Environments
Journal of Avian Biology
Journal of Biogeography
Journal of Chemical Ecology
Journal of Ecology
Journal of Environmental Assessment, Policy and Management
Journal of Environmental Hydrology
Journal of Environmental Management
Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning
Journal of Environmental Quality
Journal of Environmental Radioactivity
Journal of Environmental Science and Health
Journal of Evolutionary Biology
Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
Journal of Industrial Ecology
Journal of Marine Research
Journal of Marine Systems
Journal of Theoretical Biology
Journal of Tropical Ecology
Journal of Vegetation Science
Journal of Zoology
Landscape Ecology
Limnology and Oceanography
Marine and Freshwater Research
Marine Biology
Marine Ecology Progress Series
Marine Ecology
Marine Environmental Research
Marine Pollution Bulletin
Marine Technology Journal
Molecular Ecology
Natural Areas Journal
Natural Science
New Scientist
Northeastern Naturalist
Northwestern Naturalist
Ocean and Coastal Management
Plant and Soil
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Remote Sensing of Environment
Researches on Population Ecology
Risk - Health Safety and Environment
Risk Analysis
Sciences of Soils
Scientific American
Scientist The
Soil and Sediment Contamination
Soil Biology and Biochemistry
Soil Science Society of America Journal
Southeastern Naturalist
Southwestern Naturalist
Systematic Biology
Theoretical Population Biology
Trends in Ecology and Evolution
Urban Ecosystems
Water Air and Soil Pollution
Wetlands - Journal of the Society of Wetland Scientists
Examples of agencies and institutions publishing standards, guidelines, and other reference publications useful for CEPs:
AAAS American Association for the Advancement of Science
ACGIH American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists
ACS American Chemical Society
ACT American College of Toxicology
AIHA American Industrial Heath Association
ASTM American Society of Standards and Materials
ASWM Association of State Wetland Managers
ATINER Athens Institute of Education and Research
CWP Center for Watershed Protection
ITRC Interstate Technology & Regulatory Council
IWA International Water Association
NAS National Academy of Sciences
NAEP National Association of Environmental Professionals
NFPA National Fire Protection Association
NIH National Institutes of Health
NIOSH National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health
NIST National Institute of Standards and Technology
NRC Nuclear Regulatory Commission
NSF National Science Foundation
NTSB National Transportation Safety Board
NYAS New York Academy of Sciences
Saudi Arabia Ministry of Environment, Water, and Agriculture
SOT Society of Toxicology
SER Society for Ecological Restoration
SRA Society of Risk Analysis
SWS Society of Wetland Scientists
UN EP United Nations Environment Programme
US AID Agency for International Development
US DHHS U. S. Department of Health and Human Services
US DOA U. S. Department of Agriculture
US DOC U. S. Department of Commerce
US DOD U. S. Department of Defense
US DOE U. S. Department of Energy
US DOI U. S. Department of the Interior
US DOL U. S. Department of Labor
US DOS U. S. Department of State
US DOT U. S. Department of Transportation
US EPA U. S. Environmental Protection Agency
US HUD U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
EOs relevant to the environmental industry are provided below and available at: All EOs can be found at:
EO 14057: Catalyzing Clean Energy Industries and Jobs Through Federal Sustainability (December 2021)
EO 14035: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in the Federal Workforce (June 2021)
EO 14031: Advancing Equity, Justice, and Opportunity for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (May 2021)
EO 14030: Climate-Related Financial Risk (May 2021)
EO 14008: Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad (January 2021)
EO 13990: Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis (January 2021)
EO 13985: Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government (January 2021)
EO 13855: Promoting Active Management of America’s Forests, Rangelands, and other Federal Lands to Improve Conditions and Reduce Wildfire Risk (December 2018)
EO 13690: Establishing a Federal Flood Risk Management Standard and a Process for Further Soliciting and Considering Stakeholder Input (January 2015; reinstated by EO 14030)
EO 13604: Improving Performance of Federal Permitting and Review of Infrastructure Projects (March 2012)
EO 13274: Environmental Stewardship and Transportation Infrastructure Project Reviews (September 2002, amended by EO 13286 in February 2003)
EO 13212: Actions to Expedite Energy-Related Projects (May 2001, amended by EO 13286 in February 2003 and EO 13302 in May 2003)
EO 13186: Responsibilities of Federal Agencies to Protect Migratory Birds (January 2001)
EO 13175: Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments (November 2000)
EO 13141: Environmental Review of Trade Agreements (November 1999)
EO 13112: Invasive Species (February 1999, amended by EO 13286 in February 2003 and EO 13751 in December 2016)
EO 13089: Coral Reef Protection (June 1998)
EO 13045: Protection of Children from Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks (April 1997, as amended by EO 13229 in October 2001 and EO 13296 in April 2003)
EO 12898: Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations (February 1994, amended by EO 12948 in January 1995)
EO 12114: Environmental Effects Abroad of Major Federal Actions (January 1979)
EO 12088: Federal Compliance with Pollution Control Standards (October 1978)
EO 11990: Protection of Wetlands (May 1977, as amended by EO 12608 in September 1987)
EO 11988: Floodplain Management (May 1977, as amended by EO 12148 in July 1979 and EO 13690 in January 2015)
EO 11593: Protection and Enhancement of the Cultural Environment (May 1971)
EO 11514: Protection and Enhancement of Environmental Quality (March 1970, as amended by EO 11991 in May 1977)
Websites established by federal, state, regional, and local governments, non-governmental organizations, and private industry contain useful environmental information. Examples of journal citations and reference books (provided by ABCEP members) about utilization of data and emerging research to support scientifically valid decision making are also provided.
International Finance Corporation. Performance Standard 6: Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Management of Living Natural Resources January 1, 2012 -
International Finance Corporation (IFC). (2012, January 1). IFCs's Guidance Notes: Performance Standards on Environmental and Social Sustainability. January 1, 2012 -
Journal Citations:
Barnosky, A.D., et. al.. 2012. Approaching a state shift in Earth's biosphere. Nature 486, 52-58 (07 June 2012).
Cairns, John, Kenneth L. Dickson, and Edwin E. Herricks. Recovery and Restoration of Damaged Ecosystems. Charlottesville, Virginia, University Press of Virginia, 531 pages, 1977.
Futuyma, Douglas J. Evolutionary Biology. Sunderland, Massachusetts; Sinauer, 565 pages, 1979.
Govindarajulu, Z. Statistical Techniques in Bioassay. New York City, Karger, 166 pp., 1988.
Sneath, Peter H. A., and Robert R. Sokal. Numerical Taxonomy: The Principles and Practice of Numerical Classification. San Francisco, California, 573 pages, 1973.
Sokal, Robert A., and F. James Rohlf. Biometry - The Principles and Practice of Statistics in Biological Research. San Francisco, W. H. Freeman & Company, 776 pages, 1969.
Global - World Bank's Water Webpage -
Federal/National - Brekke, L.D., Kiang, J.E., Olsen, J.R., Pulwarty, R.S., Raff, D.A., Turnipseed, D.P., Webb, R.S., and White, K.D.. 2009. Climate Change and Water Resources Management—A Federal Perspective: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1331, 65 p. -
Federal Energy Management Program (DOE) - Water Efficiency Resources - water-efficiency-federal-buildings-and-campuses
Carson, Rachel. Silent Spring. Cambridge, Massachusetts; The Riverside Press, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 368 pages, 1962.
Dunne, Thomas and Luna Leopold. Water in Environmental Planning. New York City, W. H. Freeman & Co, 818 pages, 1978.
U.S. Department of Commerce, NOAA - Coastal Zone Management Act, Coral Reef Conservation, Estuarine Research, Land Acquisition, and Marine Protected Areas, Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion, and Nonpoint Pollution -
Coastal and Estuarine Research Foundation -
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Oceans, Coasts, Estuaries and Beaches:
Journal Citations:
Kemp, W.M. and W. R. Boynton. 2012. Synthesis in Estuarine and Coastal Ecological Research: What Is It, Why Is It Important, and How Do We Teach It? Estuaries and Coasts 35:1–22.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Recommended Water Quality Criteria -
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water, Science and Technology -
Natural Resource Conservation Service, USDA, Landscape Planning Programs -
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. 2009. Landscape Planning for Washington’s Wildlife: Managing for Biodiversity in Developing Areas. 88 Pp + App. Olympia, WA. Download document and appendices here -
Odum, Eugene P. Fundamentals of Ecology, Third Edition. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; W. B. Saunders; 574 pp., 1971.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Critical Habitat Portal - http://
NOAA Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. Fisheries Data: Critical Habitat -
Mining information provided by the U.S. Geological Survey:
Agricultural information provided by the National Agricultural Statistics Service using the 2017 Census of Agriculture:
Summary of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (Superfund) 42 U.S.C. §9601 et seq. (1980) -
42 USC Chapter 103: Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, And Liability -
Defense Environmental Restoration Program (DERP) -
DERP, DoD Instruction Number 4715.07 -
Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS) -
FUDS Program Policy - 0-3-1.pdf
United Fish and Wildlife Service -
NOAA Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service -
NOAA Fisheries - Marine Mammal Protection Act, ESA, Office of Protected Resources -
NatureServe -
Important Bird Areas -
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission -
U.S. Department of Energy -
U.S. Energy Information Administration -
State energy departments (Varies) and local public utility departments or private regulated utility companies
Private venture capitalists (varies) which may require engineering advice or regulatory review
Project Planning Step by Step Guide -
Practical Project Management & Tracking Using Microsoft Project -
Bailer, A. John, et al. Uncertainty in the Risk Assessment of Environmental and Occupational Hazards. New York City, The New York Academy of Sciences, Annals, volume 895, 377 pages, 1999.
NRC. Science and Judgment in Risk Assessment. Washington, DC, National Research Council, Academy Press, 651 pages, 1994.
Susser, Mervyn. Causal Thinking in the Health Sciences. New York City, Oxford University Press, 181 pages, 1973.
The Nature Conservancy -
U.S. Geological Survey’s The National Map –
National Ocean Council Implementation Plan -
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Coastal Hydraulics Laboratory -
Pew Oceans Commissions (Pew Charitable Trusts) -
NOAA - National Centers for Environmental Information -
EPA - Climate change, greenhouse gas regulation, Clean Air Act -
National Environmental Policy Act -
NEPA Procedures for federal agencies -
US Army Corps of Engineers Engineering Regulation 200-2-2, Procedures for Implementing NEPA -
US Department of Energy NEPA Compliance Guide -
US Environmental Protection Agency EIS Database on e-NEPA -
US Government Printing Office Code of Federal Regulations online -
Journal Citations:
Friman, Hen, Netser Matsliah, and Maxim Bandel. ATINER Conference Paper Series, ENV2019-2684, Protecting the Environment by Acquaintance and Learning -
Afsah, Shakib and Allen Blackman. Environmental Regulation and Public Disclosure: The Case of PROPER in Indonesia (Environment for Development), 1st Edition. 2013
Caldwell, Lynton K. The National Environmental Policy Act: An Agenda for the Future. Indiana University Press, February 22, 1999.
Carnegie Commission. Risk and the Environment: Improving Regulatory Decision Making. New York City; Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology, and Government, 150 pages, June 1993.
Jain, Ravi K., et al. Environmental Assessment. New York City, McGraw-Hill, 526 pp., 1993.
Porter, Alan L., and John J. Fittipaldi. Environmental Methods Review: Retooling Impact Assessment for the New Century. Atlanta, Georgi,; US Army Environmental Policy Institute, 309 pages, 1998.
Websites: U.S. Green Building Council -
NRDC explains LEED - stories/why-nrdc-helped-develop-leed-ratings-neighborhoods
Federal Infrastructure Projects Dashboard -
Journal Citations:
Cole, Christine and Mohamed Osmani. Athens Institute for Education and Research (ATINER) Conference Paper Series, ENV2012-0013, Household Waste Management Practices in Charnwood Borough, England -
Kara, Yagmur and Aylin Çigdem Köne. ATINER Conference Paper Series, ENV2012-0011, Measuring Environmental Sustainability of Turkish Metropolitan Municipalities -
Vosloo, Christo. ATINER Conference Paper Series, ARC2019-2686, Sustainable Skyscrapers: The Standard Bank Centre, Johannesburg -
Executive Order 12898 (Clinton, 1994) - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations. Explained by the EPA at -
Population information provided by the U.S. Census Bureau -
State and county population facts -
Socioeconomic information provided by the Bureau of Economic Analysis -
Ashford, Nicholas, and Claudia Miller. Chemical Exposures: Low Levels and High Stakes, Second Edition. New York City, John Wiley & Sons, 440 pages, 1998.
Federal Highways Administration Environmental Procedures -
Cornell University Law School Legal Information Institute (U.S. Code) -