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Early Childhood Lab School Earns Prestigious Building Designation

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By Lookout Staff

January 18, 2023 -- The Santa Monica Early Childhood Lab School has earned the highest rating from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

The LEED Platinum certification recognizes buildings that “save money, improve efficiency, lower carbon emissions and create healthier places for people.”

Designed by Los Angeles-based Carde Ten Architects, the 20,000-square-foot building at the Santa Monica’s Civic Center houses a groundbreaking child development facility that was decades in the making.

Santa Monica Early Childhood Lab School
Santa Monica Early Childhood Lab School (Photo by Amy Williams Photography)

The lab school, operated by locally-based nonprofit Growing Place, gives Santa Monica College (SMC) students in the early childhood development field practical experience working with children three months to six years of age.

The lab school’s construction was funded partially by SMC’s 2004 voter-approved bond Measure S and general fund monies from the City of Santa Monica. Santa Monica residents and employees have priority consideration for enrollment.

“The LEED Platinum designation is another part of how the Early Childhood Lab School is a Santa Monica success story," said Santa Monica Mayor Gleam Davis.

"We are educating our youngest learners and training future teachers in a space that reflects our value of environmental stewardship."

First imagined in 1989, the facility is the result of a collaboration and conversation between SMC, the City, RAND Corporation and the Santa Monica Early Childhood Task Force.

SMC Superintendent/President Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery called the Platinum certification “a win for all community partners who collaborated on the development of the Santa Monica Early Childhood Lab School."

The partners "stand united in a commitment to sustainability and building an educational foundation that embraces and supports the diversity of the families the school serves,” Jeffery said.

A LEED platinum certification requires at least 80 of the available 110 LEED points given for adhering to prerequisites and credits that address carbon, energy, water, waste, transportation, materials, health and indoor environmental quality.

Currently 71 children are enrolled at the Early Childhood Lab School, more than half of them Santa Monica residents, including more than 15 percent from low-income Santa Monica families.

As of Spring 2023, nine classes are being held in the SMC classrooms on the Lab School’s second floor.

For more information on the Santa Monica Early Childhood Lab School, visit

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