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U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools and District Sustainability Award

How to Apply

U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools LogoWisconsin participates in the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) program. Schools that wish to be considered for the nomination must submit the online application by December 1 each year

Schools (public/charter, private/independent) and Early Learning Institutions are eligible to apply for ED-GRS. School districts may also use this application to be considered for the U.S. Department of Education’s District Sustainability Award--simply use the same application, but answer the questions from a district perspective. Please note: Recognition for School Districts and Early Learning Institutions* is for ED-GRS only, not Green & Healthy Schools Wisconsin.

The online application tool is designed to document achievement as well as provide additional ideas for implementation. Both quantitative and qualitative questions will help share your school's story. You can work on the application over time and not all questions need to be answered. The information you provide on the online application will demonstrate your school's progress and achievements. Applicants must demonstrate achievement in all nine areas to be considered for ED-GRS nomination. Unless your school is nominated for ED-GRS, the information you provide will not be displayed publicly.

Use the resources available at and from U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Program to start making your school greener and healthier!


The U.S. Department of Education's Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) award is intended to recognize those schools taking a comprehensive approach to greening their school. A comprehensive approach incorporates and integrates environmental learning with maximizing positive environmental and health impacts. The award criteria are intended to focus on measurable outcomes wherever possible.


Application reviews will be based on the applicant's demonstrated progress towards each of the three ED-GRS goals:

I. Reduced Environmental Impact and Costs

  • Reduced or eliminated greenhouse gas emissions, using an energy audit or emissions inventory and reduction plan, cost-effective energy efficiency improvements, conservation measures, and/or and on-site renewable energy and/or purchase of green power.
  • Improved water quality, efficiency, and conservation;
  • Reduced solid and hazardous waste production through increased recycling, reduced consumption, and improved management, reduction, or elimination of hazardous waste; and
  • Expanded use of alternative transportation, through active promotion of locally-available, energy-efficient options and implementation of alternative transportation supportive projects and policies.

II. Improved Health and Wellness

  • An integrated school environmental health program based on an operations and facility-wide environmental management system that considers student, visitor and staff health and safety in all practices related to design, construction, renovation, operations, and maintenance of schools and grounds; and
  • High standards of nutrition, fitness, and quantity of quality outdoor time for both students and staff.

III. Effective Environmental and Sustainability Education

  • Interdisciplinary learning about the key relationships between dynamic environmental, energy and human systems;
  • Use of the environment and sustainability to develop STEM content knowledge and thinking skills to prepare graduates for the 21st century technology-driven economy; and
  • Development of civic engagement knowledge and skills, and students' application of these to address sustainability and environmental issues in their community.

*Early Learning Institutions that provide a formal 3-, 4-, or 5-year-old kindergarten program are eligible for Green & Healthy Schools Wisconsin recognition.

For questions about this information, contact Victoria Rydberg (608) 266-0419