EPB leaders announced Tuesday morning that the downtown structure is the city’s first existing building to become LEED-certified, a milestone officials have been working toward for about five years.

Other buildings in the city have achieved LEED certification by working toward the goal during construction.

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Click here to see EPB’s LEED certification scorecard.

“Let me tell you something about LEED-it’s hard,” Judith Webb, senior vice president of marketing and strategy for the U.S. Green Building Council, based in Washington, D.C., told the crowd.

This achievement puts it in the same ranks as New York City’s Empire State Building, leaders said.

LEED stands forLeadership in Energy and Environmental Design andis the nation’s topgreen building standard.

An array of leaders and officials, including Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke, Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger, President of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce Ron Harr, and representatives from local businesses and nonprofits,were on site for the announcement.

The achievement has a 12-month return on investment, which leaders said is rare, and will save money and energy.

Leaders said the LEED achievement will save $180,000 annually and thatEPB achieved 100 percent of all the LEED goals they attempted. Sixty-nine people in 20 different organizations worked toward the achievement.

“It was just the right thing to do from an environmental standpoint … and an economic standpoint,”EPB President Harold DePriestsaid.