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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.

Available resources: 

2018 Application Information

2018 applications for schools, districts, and institutions of higher education are now available to download below. All applications are due on January 15, 2018.

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 purchase of green power;
  • Improved water quality, efficiency, and conservation;
  • Reduced solid and hazardous waste production through increased recycling and composting, reduced consumption, and improved management, reduction, or elimination of hazardous waste; and
  • Expanded use of alternative transportation, through active promotion of locally available, energy-efficient options and implementation of alternative transportation supportive projects and policies.

Pillar 2: Improved Health and Wellness

  • High standards of coordinated school health, including health, nutrition, and outdoor physical education; health, counseling, and psychological services for both students and staff; family community involvement; and an integrated school environmental health program that considers occupant health and safety in all design, construction, renovation, operations, and maintenance of facilities and grounds. 

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 five school and district nominations. If CDE nominates more than one public school, one must be a school with at least 40 percent of its students eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch. Charter schools, private schools, and early learning institutions may also be nominated for the award. Institutions of higher education (two- and four-year public and private colleges and universities) may also be nominated. 

2018 Applications

 Application Webinars


Two of Colorado’s schools have been honored as national recipients of the 2017 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Awards. Sedalia Elementary School, of Douglas County School District, was one of 45 schools across the nation to be awarded as a Green Ribbon School. Colorado Mountain College, based in Glenwood Springs, was chosen this year as one of only nine institutions of higher education across the country to be honored with the Postsecondary Sustainability Award. Both honorees attended the national awards ceremony in Washington, DC, on July 19, 2017.

Across the country, schools, districts, and postsecondary institutions are being honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education. The honorees were named from a pool of candidates nominated by 28 states and the Department of Defense Department of Education Activity. This year, 44 percent of the honorees serve a disadvantaged student body and 14 percent are rural. The postsecondary honorees include three career and technical and community colleges.

A report with highlights on the 63 schools, districts, colleges, and universities that have been honored can be found in the U.S. Department of Education's Highlights Report.

Sedalia Elementary School, Douglas County School District


Colorado Mountain College


We want to thank our 2017-2018 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 Sponsors

Past Award Winners


  • Sedalia Elementary School, Douglas County School District


  • Heritage Elementary, Douglas County School District
  • Poudre School District, Fort Collins
  • University of Colorado Colorado Springs


  • 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
Competitive Grants and Awards
(303) 866-6250

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