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Environmental Nature Center and Preschool

Newport Beach, California
Certification level: 
Percent of Overall Diversion Achieved: 
Facility Size: 
4.5 acres
Type of Operation: 
Nature center and preschool campus
Project Overview: 

Founded in 1972, the Environmental Nature Center, is a world class facility that provides transformative experiences through connection with nature. The ENC Nature Preschool serves as a model nature preschool providing a research forum on nature-based early childhood education. The ENC’s vision is to provide equitable access and inspire all to protect the natural world by serving as their community’s leader in ecological responsibility, sustainable practices, and environmental education. The ENC’s LEED Platinum certified facilities in Newport Beach are nationally recognized and provide an essential connection between nature and the built environment.

Respecting the natural environment and being mindful of resources is an intrinsic value at the ENC, which connects over 50,000 community members to nature annually through school field trips, Traveling Naturalist programs, community programs, nature camps, service-learning programs, and professional development programs. The ENC has spent the last decade implementing low-waste operations for both employees and guests and enforcing waste diversion at the site for all workers, students, and visitors. Zero waste certification was the natural next step for this facility.

Through reusables, zero waste event policies, switching to paperless, and adjusting practices after a zero-waste audit, the ENC boasts a 97% diversion rate. All credits attempted across the scorecard were achieved; and 100% of points in seven credit categories were achieved. This resulted in a 72-point total score.

Several ENC employees were heavily involved throughout the process, and they identified measures during the waste audit that were adjusted and/or implemented within weeks of the results. The team could even restructure their waste agreement to downsize one of their bins, resulting in a savings of hundreds of dollars per year on waste management.

Not only does the administrative building and preschool feature materials made out of recycled content, reusable kitchen/breakroom supplies, multi-use towels, and a 100% compost rate, the staff (whether part- or full-time employees) are deeply immersed in the maintenance and innovation of the zero waste goals.

Additionally, daily preschoolers are required to have zero waste lunches, and campers participate in a zero-waste challenge for a special prize. Plus, all outside vendors who either rent the facility or participate in events like the Fall Faire or Artisan Marketplace are required to abide by the zero-waste policy.