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Colorado Green Ribbon Schools

About Green Ribbon Schools

The U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools honors America’s public and private elementary, middle and high schools for their efforts toward improving student health and achievement and reducing their environmental impact. A Green Ribbon Schools award will represent a healthy and sustainable school, recognized by parents, students, staff and governments at federal, state and local levels as an exemplary model of achievement in sustainability, health and environmental education.

Green Ribbon Schools sets a standard of excellence for all schools to become energy efficient and healthy learning spaces that provide environmental education. National studies and existing green schools programs indicate that the benefits of the Green Ribbon Schools program will include increased energy cost savings, improved student and staff health and productivity, enhanced critical thinking skills, improved student performance, reduced behavioral problems and increased student engagement, particularly in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects.

While the award confers no federal funds, winners of the Green Ribbon, like Blue Ribbon Schools, may experience national and local press coverage, re-energized staff and parents, enhanced community support, increased application rates, and increased opportunities for private financial assistance. Winners will be invited to participate in national and local recognition ceremonies.

2017 Application Information

Schools and districts demonstrating high achievement in the elements of each of the three Green Ribbon Schools Pillars (see below) and having high college- and career-ready standards are eligible for consideration.

Pillar 1: Reduced Environmental Impact and Costs

  • Reduced or eliminated greenhouse gas emissions using an energy audit or emissions inventory and reduction plan, cost-effective energy efficiency improvements, conservation measures and/or on-site renewable energy and/or purchased of green power;
  • Improved water quality, efficiency and conservation;
  • Reduced solid and hazardous waste production through increased recycling, reduced consumption and improved management, reduction or elimination and storage of hazardous waste products (e.g., the purchase of, use of and disposal of hazardous waste materials); and
  • Expanded use of alternative transportation to, during and from school, through active promotion of locally available options and implementation of enabling projects and policies.

Pillar 2: Improved Health and Wellness

  • An integrated school environmental health program based on an operations and facility-wide environmental management system that considers student and staff health and safety in all practices related to design, construction, renovation, operations and maintenance of schools and grounds.
  • High standards of health, wellness and quantity of quality outdoor time for both students and staff.

Pillar 3: Effective Environmental and Sustainability Education

  • Interdisciplinary learning about the key relationships between dynamic environmental, energy and human systems;
  • Use of the environment and sustainability to develop STEM content knowledge and thinking skills to prepare graduates for the 21st century technology-driven economy; and
  • Development of civic engagement knowledge and skills and students' application of these to address sustainability and environmental issues in their community.

Colorado is permitted as many as four school nominations and one district nomination. If a state or comparable authority wishes to nominate more than one public school, one must be a school with at least 40 percent of its students eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch. Private schools may also be nominated.

Institutions of higher education (IHE) also have the opportunity to receive recognition for their comprehensive green efforts. A Green Ribbon Schools Postsecondary Sustainability Award winner will represent a healthy and sustainable college or university, recognized by students, staff, parents, and governments at federal, state and local levels as an exemplary model of achievement in sustainability, health and environmental education.

2017 Applications

Recorded Application Webinars


On July 20th, the 2016 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, District Sustainability Awardees, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees received accolades at a ceremony in Washington, DC for their sustainable, healthy facilities, health and wellness practices, and learning about the environment and sustainability. At the national awards ceremony, 47 schools and 15 districts were honored for their exemplary efforts to reduce environmental impact and costs, promote better health, and ensure effective environmental education. Additionally, 11 colleges and universities were honored with the Postsecondary Sustainability Award. Representatives from honoree schools, districts and institutions of higher education received sustainably-crafted plaques in recognition of their achievements.

Colorado’s Heritage Elementary School in Douglas County School District, Poudre School District, and the University of Colorado Colorado Springs were nationally recognized in their respective categories. Read more about Colorado’s honorees and other national ED-GRS award winners in the U.S. Department of Education’s Highlights Report.

Green Ribbon - Heritage Elementary

Heritage Elementary School, Douglas County School District

Green Ribbon - Poudre School District

Poudre School District, Fort Collins

Green Ribbon - University of Colorado Colorado Springs

University of Colorado Colorado Springs


We want to thank our 2015-2016 sponsors for supporting the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools award program and Colorado’s exemplary “green” schools, districts, and institutions of higher education!

Green Ribbon 2015-2016 Sponsors

Past Award Winners


  • Red Hawk Elementary, St. Vrain Valley School District
  • Colorado State University


  • Boulder Valley School District
  • Larkspur Elementary School, Douglas County School District
  • Lesher Middle School, Poudre School District
  • Mesa Elementary School, Montezuma-Cortez School District


  • Kinard Core Knowledge Middle School, Poudre School District
  • Douglas County School District


  • Wellington Middle School, Poudre School District
  • Flagstone Elementary School, Douglas County School District
  • Denver Green School, Denver Public Schools

View additional information on the U.S. Department of Education's Green Ribbon Schools Award.

For more information on the Colorado Green Ribbon Schools Program, including application assistance and mentorship opportunities, please contact:

Anna Young
Grants Specialist
Colorado Department of Education
1560 Broadway, Suite 1100
Denver, CO 80202-5149
Phone: (303) 866-6250

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