Santa Monica Early Childhood Lab School Earns LEED Platinum

January 18, 2023 4:23 PM

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, 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 preeminent, highest rating given by the USGBC to 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 located in Santa Monica’s Civic Center houses an innovative childcare facility operated by locally-based nonprofit Growing Place. The lab school also serves as a setting where SMC students preparing to become teachers in the early childhood development field attain practical experience and discover new approaches in 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.

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.”

Santa Monica Mayor Gleam Davis shared: “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.”

“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!”

Platinum, the highest level of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, requires at least 80 of the available 110 LEED points. The Santa Monica Early Childhood Lab School is a state-of-the art facility that includes a well-planned physical environment which 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.

SMC’s Education and Early Childhood Department has launched classes, observation sessions, and community resources at the Early Childhood Lab School. As of Spring 2023, nine classes are being held in the SMC classrooms on the Lab School’s second floor. SMC early childhood/education students are regularly observing Growing Place's outstanding teaching from the high-tech computer lab that interfaces with specialized cameras in the infant, toddler, and preschool rooms, as well as from the observation deck, and directly in the children's classrooms.

The idea of this innovative Lab School goes back decades, as far back as 1989, and gained momentum after 2001, when the Civic Center Working Group identified the provision of a child development facility as a priority based on a resident survey. In 2004, the City Council identified the benefits of incorporating SMC’s proposed lab school into the civic center project. Formal approval of the plan occurred in 2012, as the SMC Board of Trustees and City Council approved a proposed agreement between the two agencies, which then allowed for the construction of the Santa Monica Early Childhood Lab School within the Civic Auditorium campus. The RAND Corporation committed one-time funds via a development agreement with the City of Santa Monica, which has assisted with program startup and tuition subsidies for low-income people.

The Santa Monica Early Childhood Lab School fulfills the City of Santa Monica’s Civic Center Specific Plan which had set forth a new vision for the Civic Center, and included the provision of quality childcare with priority given to residents and employees of the area. It is also part of the City’s Cradle to Career initiative.

For more information on the history and collaborative purpose of the Santa Monica Early Childhood Lab School, visit, and to enroll children/find more details on this innovative childcare facility, visit

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Youth And Seniors


Office of Sustainability and the Environment