Step Recognition Levels

Welcome to the Step Recognition Page where you can learn about the MN GreenStep Schools recognition levels and process and apply for advancing to the next GreenStep of recognition. 

Step Recognition Levels

The primary recognition levels or “steps” for the GreenStep School Program are designed to be parallel in approach to the 5 steps in the Minnesota GreenStep Cities program recognition levels while also encouraging the breadth reflected in the Green Ribbon Schools Program and imagining visionary level performance in the future (Greensteps 6-10). The advancement from one step to the next is optional and can be done at your own pace. While step level accomplishments are the primary recognition, be sure to celebrate and communicate each best practice you accomplish along the way to energize the team and keep momentum going. Also, if national recognition is desired or the prestige of a more rigorous third party certification program, consider supplementing use of this program with seeking a State and Federal Green Ribbon Schools award, or participating in LEED for schools. Future versions of the MN GreenStep Schools program for steps 4-10 may include more rigorous review to ensure consistency in reporting performance metrics.

Steps 1-3 focus on setting initial intentions via a resolution, and implementing best practice actions. Steps 4-5 move into a focus on monitoring and managing overall performance outcomes by setting up practices to keep track of performance metrics like overall water use and then taking actions to improve the overall performance. Note that throughout all steps, teams should continue to implement and document best practice actions. Steps 6-10 focus on planning towards the ideal vision, including making a plan for how to get there, taking steps along the way, and getting recognized for meeting performance milestones. For example, a long term plan for the vision of net-zero energy, might look at conservation behaviors, new equipment, better management practices, and solar cells on the roof. 

Minnesota GreenStep School Step Recognition Levels:

GreenStep 1:  Build interest with members of the school community, learn about the program, join GreenStep Schools by adopting a district and school resolution and entering basic information about the school in the program. (District and school resolutions may be combined.) 

GreenStep 2: Drawing from what you’ve already done as well as new efforts, implement and document two best practice actions in each of the three outcome areas (total of 6 best practices or more) 

GreenStep 3: Implement and document two more best practice actions in each of the three outcome areas (total of 6 additional best practice actions or more) with at least two of these that are “high-impact” best practice actions.

GreenStep 4: Measure and report on between 3-5 overall school or district best practice performance metrics in each outcome area for a total of 9-15 performance metrics tracked.

GreenStep 5: Show improvement in overall school or district performance metrics

GreenStep 6: Create a long term plan for achieving the ideal performance for 9-15  best practices

GreenSteps 7-9: Increasing percentages of progress toward ideal level of performance

GreenStep 10: Ideal level of performance achieved in 9-15 practice areas : For example, Net –zero or better municipal or ground water consumption – or living within the water income of the site. 

Applying for Step Level Recognition

To apply for GreenStep 1, review the GreenStep 1 Page and use the GreenStep 1 Form linked there.

To advance to GreenStep 2 and above, use the Project Story Forms where you will describe your completed project and best practices, showing achievement that meets the Step Level.

About the Pilot Version

The pilot version is building basic capabilities. Not all features are active. As the website is developed, anticipate greater functionality. If you have any comments on the website, please contact, 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.