Best Practices

Welcome to the Best Practices Page where you can learn about the best practices that fall into four outcome areas, [and Under Development: link to Info Pages for each Best Practice, and Links to associated Best Practice Actions (BPAs.)]

Using Outcome Areas, Best Practices, and Best Practice Actions (BPAs)

The school greening activities are organized in three levels: Outcome Areas, Best Practices, and Best Practice Actions (BPAs).

The first level of organization is “Outcome Areas.” These areas represent the broad benefits of green schools. They are in line with the categories and “pillars” of the Green Ribbon Schools program, though the details within vary somewhat.

Outcome Areas

The second level, under outcome areas, is “Best Practices.” These are stated in the form of an achieved characteristic of the district or school. For example: Under the Outcome Area called “Reduced Environmental Impact and Costs” there is a best practice called “Commuting Efficiency: Many students and staff walk, bike, carpool or bus to school.”

The third level, under best practices, is “Best Practice Actions” (or BPAs). These are where the actual activity of school greening happens, and where that activity is documented. For example, under the best practice “Commuting Efficiency: Many students and staff walk, bike, carpool or bus to school,” there is a list of possible BPAs to work on such as “Provide preferred parking for carpools” or “Provide bike racks at convenient locations” or “Monitor levels of walking, biking, carpooling and bussing so improvements can be tracked over time.” For each of the possible actions to support the best practice, resource links are listed that provide more information.

Here is a list of all 33 of the best practices organized by their outcome areas. The best practice actions for each best practice, are under development for Pilot Version 1.0.

Best Practices organized by Outcome Areas

Click on the Outcome Area Graphic or linked (underlined) Best Practices for more detail.

0.1 Green Team: Participating districts and schools form a green team made up of diverse roles and stakeholders.

0.2 GreenStep School Resolution: The district passes a resolution to participate in GreenStep, signed by participating schools.

0.3 Widespread Communication: District/School communicate activities and accomplishements to families, students, staff, and stakeholders.

0.4 Equity And Diversity: District/School Proactively plans for equitable and diverse participation in the program and projects

0.5 Green School Strategic Plan: District/School creates a strategic plan and reviews it annually.

0.6 Community Leadership: District/School contribute their experience to professional and community organizations to foster green school capacity beyond their borders.

0.7 Advanced Recognition: District/School seek advanced recognition through programs like Green Ribbon, LEED, or others.

1.1 Energy Efficiency: District/School has very little wasted energy.

1.2 Clean Energy: District/School uses clean energy sources such as solar panels.

1.3 Waste Reduction: District/School has very little solid waste and recycles a variety of materials.

1.4 Material Safety: District/School has very little hazardous waste and safely manages it.

1.5 Water Efficiency: District/School has very little wasted water indoors and in the school yard.

1.6 Onsite Stormwater Management: Schoolyards include areas that are natural and help rain soak deep into the ground.

1.7 Community Spaces: Schools and schoolyards include areas that the community can use.

1.8 Green Product Purchasing: District/School purchases green products such as recycled office paper, low or non-toxic cleaning supplies, furniture built to green standards, or efficient computers.

1.9 Commuting Efficiency: Many students and staff walk, bike, carpool or bus to school.

1.10 Transportation Efficiency: District/School has efficient transportation use and reduces its environmental impacts.

1.11 Climate Adaptation and Community Resilience: District/School has planned and prepared for extreme weather, adaptation to changing climatic conditions, and has fostered strong community connections.

1.12 Climate Mitigation and Planning: District/School has assessed their greenhouse gas emissions, planned for their reduction, and is taking action toward that goal.

2.1 Drinking Water Safety: District/School monitors drinking water quality and prevents water contaminants.

2.2 Indoor Air Quality: District/School has programs to protect air quality such as using a strong ventilation standard, a comprehensive Indoor Air Quality Management Program, an asthma management program, and a no-smoking policy.

2.3 Indoor Environmental Comfort: School provides comfortable learning spaces in terms of natural and artificial lighting, temperature, humidity, acoustics (sound quality), window views to nature, furniture and equipment.

2.4 Chemical Safety: School minimizes and manages chemical exposure and handling to protect students and staff from wood preservatives, mercury in devices, pesticides, and other potential hazards.

2.5 Physical Activity: Students have ample physical education or outdoor time during each school day.

2.6 Nourishment Access: District/School provides breakfast and free or reduced lunches as needed to make sure all students are nourished.

2.7 Nutrition: District/School provides nutritious and healthy meals and snacks.

2.8 Sustainable Food: District/School purchases food with green features such as organic, fair trade, or locally grown.

2.9. Health Resources and Planning: District/School has health resources (e.g. a nurse or health aid) and has an overall health plan that includes mental health, positive school climate, inclusivity, equity, and safety.

3.1 Integrated Environmental Education: Environmental education is integrated throughout the curriculum.

3.2 Outdoor Learning: Outdoor learning experiences are provided .

3.3 Teacher Training: Environmental education training is offered to teachers.

3.4. Environmental Career Preparation: The curriculum connects to environmental career readiness.

3.5 Community Projects: Students conduct environmental community engagement projects .

3.6 Community Engagement: The district/school partners with community organizations to advance green school achievement.

About the Pilot Version

The pilot version is building basic capabilities. Not all features are active. As the website is developed, anticipate greater functionality and inclusion of more Best Practices. If you have any comments on the website, please contact mngreenstepsch@umn.edu, including the name of the page in the email subject line, and your comment or question in the email body. See the Online Versions Page to track updates.