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Eco-Schools awards are an opportunity to celebrate major milestones on the journey to become a more sustainable school. These recognitions not only signify a school’s commitment to sustainability—they showcase achievements in which the entire community can take pride.

 Students holding green flag

Award Levels

Registered Eco-Schools can be recognized at three levels of achievement: Bronze, Silver, and Green Flag. As schools complete pathways following each step of the program’s Seven Step Framework, points accumulate toward an award.

The awards do not need to be achieved in order. Many schools choose to start by working toward a Bronze Award, while others may begin by working toward a Silver or Green Flag award.

Points earned toward a Bronze Award count toward a Silver Award, and points earned for Bronze and Silver awards count toward a Green Flag Award.

How Do I Earn an Eco-Schools Award?

Schools must meet a designated set of criteria for each award. (See the award pages above for criteria checklists.) Upon meeting all criteria, a school may submit a self-assessment to gain a Bronze or Silver award, while the Green Flag Award requires an application that must be evaluated by an Eco-Schools USA administrator. Schools are encouraged to continue their sustainability work and apply for additional Green Flag Awards. A school is considered a permanent Eco-School once it has earned its fourth Green Flag Award.

The Eco-Schools program is a self-paced program, but completion of the Seven Step Framework generally requires a full academic year.

Registered Eco-Schools that have met all the criteria for an award may submit their assessment or application through their school dashboard.

Green Ribbon Schools

Some Green Flag awardees have gone on to become Green Ribbon Schools, a recognition granted by the U.S. Department of Education in an effort to identify and disseminate knowledge about practices proven to result in improved student engagement, academic achievement, graduation rates, and workforce preparedness. Through the Green Ribbon Schools awards program, the Department of Education recognizes schools with high levels of achievement under three pillars:

1. Having a net zero environmental impact
2. Improving the health and performance of students and staff
3. Ensuring the environmental and sustainability literacy of all graduates

Eco-Schools USA’s Seven Step Framework and pathways support all three pillars of the Green Ribbon Schools program. (View a chart detailing how the programs align.)

 In order to receive recognition as a Green Ribbon School, a school must be nominated by the Chief State Schools Officer (CSSO) in its state. We encourage you to contact your Chief State Schools Officer to learn more about nominating Eco-Schools in your state. 

If your school is already a Green Ribbon School, you are eligible to apply for a Green Flag Award through Eco-Schools USA.