NEOSHO, Mo. — The highest certification of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green building rating system was recently awarded to Crowder College's Roy Blunt Center for Missouri Alternative and Renewable Energy Technology, located on the college's Neosho campus.

"It's a pretty elite award," said Melissa Oates, the MARET Center director. "It's a pretty prestigious honor, particularly for a community college."

LEED, a global rating system for green buildings, gives certifications by ranking criteria such as the building's energy use and air quality. The MARET Center in August received a Platinum certification, which requires the highest number of points based on the rankings, and formally made the announcement this week. Other certification levels, from least to most points, are Certified, Silver and Gold.

"There are just not very many buildings that achieve that Platinum status," Oates said.

Oates said that of the 138 community college buildings in the U.S. that have a LEED certification, three of them are in Missouri — and two sit on Crowder's Neosho campus. Davidson Hall, which houses Crowder's science and health technology programs, received Gold certification in 2012.

"That kind of spoke volumes to me about how prestigious of an award it is that we are receiving," Oates said.

The MARET Center, which opened in 2012, was designed with the intention of achieving LEED Platinum certification, Oates said. Features of the building include motion sensor lights, solar panels and an occupancy sensor for the heating and cooling system.

"The structure itself has a north berm, where it looks like the north face of the building is buried underground," Oates said. "We've got the earth piled up so that it acts as a wind break for the cold north wind."

The building's solar panel system — which provides about 60 percent of the building's electrical needs — also received a patent in 2016 for its unique design, Oates said. A series of water pipes underneath the solar panels pulls away heat to make the panels run more efficiently, and then the heated water is dumped into a geothermal well to use later for heating and cooling.

Another aspect of the building that helped it achieve Platinum certification is that Crowder solar and wind energy students maintain all of the building's equipment as part of their classes, Oates said.

"The whole building is a classroom," Oates said.

To celebrate the Platinum certification, a reception will be held 1 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 4, at the MARET Center, 601 Laclede Ave. in Neosho. College officials will offer tours of the building, followed by refreshments.