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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.


The 2025 Green Ribbon Application will open early Fall.

The aim of U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) is to inspire schools, districts, and institutions of higher education (IHEs) to strive for 21st century excellence by highlighting promising practices and resources that all can employ. To that end, the award recognizes schools, districts, and IHEs that:

  1. Reduce environmental impact and costs;
  2. Improve the health and wellness of schools, students, and staff; and
  3. Provide effective environmental and sustainability education.

Combined progress in all three of these areas, known as Pillars, serves as the basis for recognition.

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.

Past Award Winners


  • Aspen Prep Academy


  • Central High School, Grand Junction

  • Mackintosh Academy, Denver


  • Colorado Mountain College, Glenwood Springs

  • 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

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


Katie Van Kooten
BEST Regional Program Manager
303-926-4794 (c)