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What is it?

The Minnesota GreenStep Schools program adopts the successful Minnesota GreenStep Cities program concept of supporting and recognizing voluntary best practices for environmental responsibility and efficient use of resources, and applies it to schools where it also provides experiential learning opportunities. MN GreenStep Schools integrates the proven, beginner-friendly MN GreenStep Cities program with the comprehensive Green Ribbon framework. The program gives schools an accessible pathway to sustainability, a common framework, and supports small efforts over time. It spurs sustainable behavior outcomes using peer network strategies, shown by research to be effective. The program has completed Phase 1 and you can learn more in the Phase 1 Reports.

Minnesota GreenStep Schools
Sustainable Best Practices Framework Phase 1

The “Minnesota GreenStep Schools Sustainable Best Practices Framework Phase 1,” is a project, recently completed, to create a statewide best practices framework for K-12 schools to advance their building and grounds sustainability, health and well being of students and staff, and student environmental education achievement. The project is funded by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) through an Environmental Assistance Grant. The resulting program design framework will be ready to pilot and represents Phase 1 of a long term process to launch a program. The program design fills the need for a consistent and beginner-friendly green schools framework, and builds from the successful delivery model of the Minnesota GreenStep Cities program and the nationally recognized green school performance areas of Green Ribbon Schools award program. The project connects existing state and private programs and expertise with schools in the context of a step-by-step "on-ramp" to challenge, assist and recognize schools as they move toward higher performance in reducing environmental impacts and costs, providing healthy learning environments, and integrating environmental education.

Need and Purpose

Minnesota K-12 Schools have little mandate to provide environmental education or to green their operations to improve environmental impacts. There is great potential for integrating existing environmental education curriculum and proven building and campus improvement strategies into schools. Existing green school programs, despite their strengths, only address a fraction of this potential. Currently, there is no central place to document and compare progress and recognize success across these programs.

The Minnesota GreenStep Schools project addresses these issues and provides a robust, trusted, consistent, and beginner-friendly framework and program design concept to challenge, assist and recognize schools as they advance their building and grounds sustainability, healthy learning environment,  and student environmental education achievement.

Project Team

The Phase 1 project team was led by Institute on the Environment, with US Green Building Council and its Minnesota Green Schools Coalition, and an Advisory Group.
Phase 2 planning is underway also led by Institute on the Environment with Minnesota Design Center and partners. (More on Phase 2 team and details, coming soon.)

Learn More

The planning team welcomes your questions and input. To explore how to contribute, get on a list of those interested in updates, or get more information, please see the contact page of this website.