March 3, 2024 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Santa Monica Early Childhood Lab School Earns LEED Platinum Certification

20,000-square-foot building in Santa Monica’s Civic Center home to a progressive childcare facility operated by Growing Place

The Santa Monica Early Childhood Lab School—a groundbreaking child development facility born out of a decades-long collaboration and conversation between Santa Monica College, the City of Santa Monica, RAND Corporation, and the Santa Monica Early Childhood Task Force—has earned a LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). This is the highest rating given by the USGBC to buildings that “save money, improve efficiency, lower carbon emissions and create healthier places for people.”

“Congratulations to Brian Ten and Carde Ten Architects for guiding the Early Childhood Lab School to this triumphant achievement!” said SMC Board Chair Barry Snell. “We are proud to have yet another facility associated with Santa Monica College recognized for being a terrific example of green building done right, and well!”

Designed by Carde Ten Architects, the 20,000-square-foot building in Santa Monica’s Civic Center is home to a progressive childcare facility operated by Growing Place, a local non-profit. The Lab School also offers SMC students a chance to become teachers in the early childhood development field, gaining practical experience and new approaches to work with children aged 3 months to 6 years old. Funded partially by SMC’s 2004 voter-approved bond Measure S and City of Santa Monica general fund monies, enrollment in the lab school priority is given to local residents and employees.

SMC Superintendent/President Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery called the LEED Platinum certification “a win for all of community partners who collaborated on the development the Santa Monica Early Childhood Lab School, who stand united in a commitment to sustainability and building an educational foundation that embraces and supports the diversity of the families the school serves.”

The Santa Monica Early Childhood Lab School’s state-of-the-art facility includes a well-planned physical environment that supports the implementation of the high-quality program provided by the College’s operating partner, Growing Place, the Santa Monica-based nonprofit child development program with three Santa Monica locations. Currently, 71 children are enrolled at the Early Childhood Lab School, more than half of whom are Santa Monica residents, including more than 15 percent from low-income Santa Monica families.

Platinum, the highest LEED certification, requires 80 of 110 LEED points. 

“The LEED Platinum designation is another part of how the Early Childhood Lab School is a Santa Monica success story.  We are educating our youngest learners and training future teachers in a space that reflects our value of environmental stewardship. Congratulations to everyone involved,” said Santa Monica Mayor Gleam Davis. 

SMC’s Education and Early Childhood Department has launched classes, observation sessions, and community resources at the Early Childhood Lab School. In Spring 2023, nine classes will be held in SMC classrooms on the second floor. Students observe Growing Place’s teaching via a high-tech computer lab connected to specialized cameras in infant, toddler, and preschool rooms as well as an observation deck and directly in children’s classrooms.

The Lab School’s concept originated in 1989 and gained momentum after 2001 when the Civic Center Working Group identified a need for child development facilities. In 2004, SMC’s proposed lab school was approved for the civic center project. In 2012, the SMC Board of Trustees and City Council approved the agreement allowing for construction in the Civic Auditorium campus. The RAND Corporation aided with program startup and tuition subsidies through a one-time development agreement with Santa Monica.

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