This story was updated at 4:07 p.m. on Nov. 8, 2019, with more information; updated again at 11 p.m.
EPB is the first Chattanooga company to earn Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification at the "Gold" level for an existing building in the city, the power distributor said Friday.
David Wade, EPB's president and chief executive, said it moved up from LEED "Silver," which it achieved a year ago for its M.L. King Boulevard headquarters.
"The investment paid off in less than a year," he told about 75 people at Miller Plaza during the EPB Green Business Expo, noting there is a business case for LEED certification.
EPB cited efforts to cut its environmental impact through energy efficiency, reduced water use, diverting landfill waste through composting and recycling and other measures.
Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said local residents don't take for granted stewardship of the environment. Chattanooga was called the "dirtiest city in America" in October 1969 by CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite.
Berke noted the economic gains made by the city, such as unemployment in the Chattanooga area falling to the lowest September rate in modern history a couple of months ago.
"Does anybody believe that's still happening if we're the dirtiest city in America?" he asked.
EPB LEED GOLD FACTS
Over the past year, EPB reduced:
* Water use by 1.4 million gallons
* Energy costs by $8,250
* Total landfill waste by 63%
Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger said that taking care of the environment helps attract business here.
He said EPB is close to achieving the highest LEED certification of "Platinum."
J.Ed. Marston, EPB's vice president of marketing and communications, said that reaching the highest level is an aspiration for the distributor.
"We're going to work toward it," he said.
LEED certification was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. It's the most widely used "green" building rating system, according to EPB.
At the expo, the Tennessee Aquarium, Chattanooga State Community College and The Bright School committed to completing the green|light sustainability designation over the next year. That independently verified certification is administered by local nonprofit green|spaces.
Those entities and others which join by Jan. 2, 2020, will take part in the EPB green|light Accelerator, a 10-month program designed to expedite the transition to environmentally and socially responsible operations.
Christy Gillenwater, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce's president and CEO, said EPB continues to lead on sustainable practices.
"It's something more companies care about," she said.
Rhiannon Jacobsen, the U.S. Green Building Council's vice president of market transformation and development, said that EPB has shown "tremendous leadership" and the latest certification indicates its commitment to move beyond the status quo.
The Green Building Council has 100,000 registered projects certified for LEED.
"We have a lot more to do," she said, mentioning EPB's "incremental journey."
EPB built its current, seven-story, 140,000- square-foot headquarters and adjacent 500-car parking garage in 2003.
Contact Mike Pare at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.