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Going “green” in preschool

recycleI recently attending a local workshop in my state called Greening your Early Childhood Center. (Sponsored by the Connecticut Children’s Investment Partnership and the CCAC Accreditation Facilitation Project ). We learned about ways we can reduce energy and water use, create a healthy environment and save costs in our early childhood programs.

There have been great advances in “green design” for new buildings and facilities to save energy and implement the use renewable energy sources. However, I think it’s safe to say that most of us (early childhood teachers, directors and administrators alike) probably aren’t in a situation where we will be designing an early learning center from the ground up. Most of us are in existing homes and buildings, and funding is tight.

However, through this workshop, I did learn of some small things that all of us can do (in our homes and at our child care centers) to save energy, water and money. Our “greening” presenter was Mike Lindstrom, a nationally-recognized early childhood facilities architect. He explained that “green” design and practice means “designing things and doing things in such a way they have a positive impact or low impact on the world we live in“. For existing early childhood centers, even small changes to implement green practices can add up to big savings.

There are many facets to “green strategy” – so I’ll be breaking this out into categories over the next couple of weeks. For this post, I’ll share some ideas for how to make your “envelope”more energy efficient. (I learned a new term at this workshop … the “envelope” refers to your building’s roof, walls, windows and floor).

It’s worth the time to have your building undergo an energy audit (check with your local utility company to find out about energy efficiencies programs they may have, and if they do free energy audits). An audit will assess the efficiency of your heating, air conditioning, insulation and air-tightness of your building.

For teachers, there are things you can do in right in your classroom to help your room be as energy efficient as possible:

Draft proofing: Using colorful draft guards near doors and windows can keep the classroom warm and comfortable in the cold months, reduce allergens and save energy/costs. Weather strip around windows that are drafty.

Use window blinds/shades to help save energy: Close them to cool rooms in the warm months and open them to allow sun to warm the room in cooler months. Also look into exterior shutters for rooms that are consistently too warm due to intense sun exposure.

Don’t block air grilles, heating vents or air returns: Look around your room to make sure no shelving, rugs or any other furniture is covering air/heating vents.

Encourage teachers and children to dress for the weather: Sweaters in winter / shorts in the summer. Don’t over-heat or over-air condition the room.

This is just a start to some of the information I learned at this workshop … there is much more to share! This workshop gave us the impetus to start a new section of our website called The “Green” Room where will we share resources that programs can use to learn more about “going green”.

Have some “green” ideas of your own? Please leave a comment and share them with us!

Resources: Greening Early Childhood Centers” Resource Guide (published by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation / CT Children’s Investment Partnership)


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