A GreenPrint for becoming a Green, Healthy and Sustainable school

What Is a Green School?

A Green School enhances student health and learning while conserving natural resources and empowering students to develop sustainable behaviors, enabling them to become the stewards of the future.

How do you become a Green School? 

Becoming a green school is not a prescribed journey; it is a series of conscious actions that lead to more ecological and sustainable practices.  By using this “GreenPrint™” as a road map, leaders, teachers and students, can begin to implement core practices immediately.  Through long-term commitment to these core practices, schools and school districts work toward implementation of all benchmarks at the highest level.

Core Practices


Core Practice 1: Curriculum that Advances Environmental Literacy and Sustainability

  • Environmental literacy & education for sustainability, as defined by local, state, & national standards, is integrated in all grades;
  • All teachers use inquiry, problem, and project-based pedagogy to facilitate learning about global systems and relationships;
  • Outdoor experiences and fieldwork support learning about complex systems, connecting humans with other humans and all aspects of the natural world;
  • Content areas are integrated by using environmental and sustainability topics as the common theme; and
  • Collaboration with research-based curriculum and assessment models.

Core Practice 2: Stewardship and Service Learning

  • Real world service learning projects explore solutions to local, regional, global problems and issues and teach 21century skills;
  • Stewardship projects allow the student to take responsibility for their own school grounds;
  • Place-based projects and practices that include, but are not limited to, school farms, forests, and gardens;
  • All students are given the opportunity to participate in land restoration projects, such as native eco-system or brown fields remediation; and
  • Teacher and leaders provide opportunities for students to make local and global connections.

Core Practice 3:  Sustainable Facilities Design and Management

  • Green facilities design and construction retrofit for existing buildings as defined by state, regional or national certification programs;
  • Management practices, operations, and maintenance that reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, improve indoor air quality and lighting, decrease waste stream and improve water conservation;
  • Zero-waste or reduced-waste cafeterias;
  • Use of non-toxic and eco-friendly supplies and materials; and
  • Facility managers and teacher work together to use buildings, management practices, materials and supplies purchasing to teach about sustainability.

Core Practice 4:  Health and Well Being

  • Healthy eating programs that utilize locally sourced and whole foods;
  • Curriculum and support for physical fitness and healthy lifestyle choices;
  • Fitness and recreation programs that include lifetime outdoor activities such as walking, hiking, biking, skiing, and camping;
  • Healthy air quality practices and lighting that reduce illness and absenteeism; and
  • Healthy and thoughtful relationships with others that support character development.

Core Practice 5:  Strong Partnerships and Networks

  • Long-term partnerships that support systemic change and ecological balance within the school and community;
  • Strong alliances among groups of diverse cultural heritage to promote the greening of schools in all communities;
  • Participation in the development of state and national green school networks;
  • Participation in research and evaluation of student learning and best green school practices; and
  • Collaboration with research-based curriculum and assessment models.

Our Mission

GSNN provides K-12 teachers, administrators, leaders and professionals with evidence-based resources and tools to maximize financial and natural resources; improve the health and well-being of staff and students; and prepare students with the knowledge and skills for a sustainable future.

Our Vision

All schools and school districts are green, healthy, and sustainable.

Areas of Focus

  • Education/Professional Development
  • Resources and Information
  • Networking/Collaboration
  • Advocacy/Polic
  • Research

 Organizations Contributing to the GSNN GreenPrint Document

Alaska Green Schools

Alliance for Climate Education

American Federation of Teachers

Association of Independent Schools

Biological Sciences Curriculum StudyBluePlanet

Campaign for Environmental Literacy

Cannon Design

Center for Diversity and the Environment

Center for Ecoliteracy

Center for Environmental Education

Climate Counts

Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS)

Council for Educational Facility Planners International  (CEFPI )

Cloud Institute

Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education

Colorado Department of Energy

Colorado League of Charter Schools

Colorado Legacy FoundationConserve School

Denver Public Schools

E3 Washington

Earth Day Foundation


Earth Partnerships for Schools

Environmental Charter Schools – California

Expeditionary Learning Schools

Facing the Future

Global Green

Green Charter Schools Network

Green Education Alliance

Green Education Foundation

Green My Parents

Green Schools Alliance

Green Schools Initiative (CA)

GREENGUARD Environmental Institute


Healthy Schools Campaign

Green Schools Alliance

Green Schools Initiative (CA)

GREENGUARD Environmental Institute


Healthy Schools Campaign

High Plains Environmental Center

Institute for the Built Environment, Colorado State University

Kansas Assoc. for Conservation & Environmental Education

Keep America Beautiful

Kokua Hawaii Foundation

Lunch Partners

MCW Energy

MGR Foundation – Green Community Schools

Maine Green Schools

Manitoba Education

Michigan Green Schools

Mid-America Regional Council

Minnesota Department of Education

National Association of Elementary School Principals

National Association of Independent Schools

National Association of School Administrators

National Audubon Society

National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities

National Education Association

National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEFUSA)

National School Board Association

National Wildlife Federation

No Child Left Inside

North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE)

Oklahoma Green Schools

Oregon Green Schools

Pine Jog Environmental Center

Place Based Education Evaluation Collaboration

Project Learning Tree – Green Schools!

SIG Energy Initiative

Sizemore Group

Sustenance International

Sustainable Schools Project


Triangle Energy Solutions

U.S. Department of Agriculture

U.S. Department of Education

U.S. Department of Energy

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

U.S. Forest Service

U.S. Green Building Council – Colorado Chapter

U.S. Green Building Council – Georgia Chapter

U.S. Green Building Council – Center for Green Schools

U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development

Washington Green Schools

Will Steger Foundation

Wisconsin Center for Environmental Education

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction