Minnesota GreenStep Schools program is a free and voluntary statewide best practices framework, community of practice, and recognition program for public and private K-12 schools and districts to reduce environmental impact and costs, improve health and well-being of students and staff, and provide effective environmental and sustainability education. It is part of the Minnesota GreenStep suite of programs along with MN GreenStep Cities and Tribal Nations. Read more in the overview, below.
Minnesota GreenStep Schools program is a free and voluntary statewide best practices framework, community of practice, and recognition program for public and private K-12 schools and districts to reduce environmental impact and costs, improve health and well-being of students and staff, and provide effective environmental and sustainability education. Phase 1and 2 of the project have been funded by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. The result is this online program, ready to pilot and refine in collaboration with schools and stakeholders. The program fills the need for a consistent and beginner-friendly green schools framework, and builds from the successful delivery model of Minnesota GreenStep Cities and the nationally recognized green school performance areas of the Green Ribbon Schools awards program. The program connects existing expertise from state and private programs with schools and districts 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. The University of Minnesota's Minnesota Design Center and Institute on the Environment lead the project team, with a steering committee and an advisory network representing many partners from state agencies, school organizations, businesses, non-profits, teachers, and more.
Minnesota GreenStep Schools is focused on institutional participation and recognition of school districts and individual schools. In addition, individuals working on school greening activities can participate as “GreenStep Team Members” and nonprofits, businesses, and other groups wishing to support districts and schools with information, materials, time, or financial contributions can participate as “GreenStep Resource Organizations.”
To participate, a district or school must pass a resolution, form a green team, provide some general information including contact information for the program lead. For completing these actions, the district or school will have a web page where they will be recognized as a GreenStep level 1 District or School. After this, the district or school will complete Best Practice Actions, or BPAs, and document them on the website until they’ve earned enough for the next GreenStep level of recognition. This continues until GreenStep level 4, when BPAs are paired with performance monitoring to better assess the benefits that are accruing. Districts and schools work toward the long-range vision of GreenStep level 10 – a future, super-high-performance school that inspires staff, students and the community to aim high, while committing to actionable steps.
Minnesota GreenStep Schools Outcome Areas
The term “green” has many interpretations, as does the term “green schools.” We define green schools as schools that provide benefits in four “Outcome Areas”: Organizational Leadership, Reduced Environmental Impact and Costs, Improved Health and Wellness, and Effective Environmental and Sustainability Education.
Explore the menu to learn about the program team, development, news, best practices, participation types, process steps, and achieving recognition.
Express your interest and sign up for updates on the MN GreenStep Schools Interest Form