Green Check List for Child Care Centers

As promised in previous eNewsletters, we are continuing our discussion on green buildings and green architecture. Use this checklist to see how green your center can become. Building green means less energy and water consumption, less impact on the land and a healthier interior environment. There is a wide gamut of benefits ranging from ergonomical use of space, environmental benefits, improved health, financial incentives, reduced operational costs and promotional values.

Energy Efficiency

  1. Is energy efficient lighting in place in all areas?
  2. Are occupancy sensors or timers used to control lighting in intermittent-use areas?
  3. Do classrooms have dimmers on lights?
  4. Are programmable thermostats with motion detectors used to control HVAC in intermittent-use areas?
  5. Do windows open for fresh air?
  6. Is glazing used on windows throughout the center to prevent heat from building up, while still allowing light through?
  7. Do you follow a strict maintenance schedule for heating and cooling appliances?
  8. Is your center accessible to public transportation?
  9. Have energy efficient appliances in the kitchen and classrooms?

Air Quality

  1. Is air filtration in place for all spaces?
  2. Is your diaper area adequately vented?
  3. Minimize the use of harmful chemicals or use non-toxic products for use in cleaning?
  4. Use low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) materials in the center (paint, adhesives, carpeting and air fresheners)?
  5. Have windows that open?

Water Conservation

  1. Have a maintenance system that monitors, detects and repairs leaking toilets and faucets?
  2. Does your center use water-conserving fixtures? 1.5 gallons per minute faucet aerators, 1.6 gallons per flush toilets
  3. Use plants in the landscaping and the play yard that are native and do not require high water usage?
  4. Have staff sweep, not water spray the parking lots, driveways and sidewalks?

Solid Waste Minimization

  1. Do you have a recycling program for both office and classroom use?
  2. Do you have a composting system for food scraps?
  3. Provide the opportunity for record keeping to be done paperless?
  4. Minimize handouts and print double-sided?
  5. Use electronic methods for parent sign-in?
  6. Reuse packing materials to minimize waste?
  7. Do you use recycled materials for art?
  8. Give guests reusable coffee mugs at the start of meetings?
  9. Arrange to have left over food donated to a local food bank or soup kitchen?
  10. Where possible provide bulk services for high use food items like condiments and beverages rather than individually packaged?
  11. Ensure that recycling areas next to the food service are clearly marked?

Environmental Purchasing

  1. Use environmentally friendly responsible cleaning supplies?
  2. Use soy-based ink and recycled paper?
  3. Buy reusable cups, mugs and silverware for employee use?
  4. Regularly purchase reusable and durable products?
  5. Regularly purchase products that can be recycled or are biodegradable?
  6. Have restroom supplies, hand towels and toilet paper that are made of recycled products?
  7. Do you have hand dyers where appropriate?
  8. Use paper products bleached without chlorine and made with the following post-consumer recycled content? (office paper 30%, glossy printed material 10%, bath tissue 50%, facial tissue 20%, napkins and paper towels 60%)
  9. Give preference to products that are environmentally responsible, i.e. low toxicity, organic or locally grown/made?
  10. Give preference to the selection of environmentally responsible service providers, i.e. renewable energy, integrated pest management, alternative fuel vehicles?
  11. Prohibit purchasing of equipment made from endangered or threatened woods?


  1. Have an individual at your facility with authority take responsibility for environmental management?
  2. Have a management system in place to educate employees on environmental practices and to ensure that these practices are being monitored and evaluated to improve environmental performance?
  3. Have recycling receptacles in offices, classrooms, meeting spaces and lobby?
  4. Communicate your environmental efforts to parents, vendors, stakeholders and the public?
  5. Have an organized curriculum to teach young children about earth stewardship and recycling?
  6. Teach staff to implement environmental policies?