Green Flag Award Criteria

To be eligible for the prestigious Green Flag Award, a school must accomplish the criteria under each of the Seven Steps below. Each of the criteria has an associated point value. The Green Flag requires a total of 300 points. It must be renewed every two years.

When you are ready to apply for this top level award (or renew your application), follow this two-step process:


We now require schools applying for the Green Flag to “populate” their dashboard profile with data. To do this, go to the login tab and enter your username and password.


You can access the Green Flag application directly from your profile page by clicking on ‘Apply for an award: Green Flag’ in the box in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. You will need to upload the following items as PDF attachments when you submit your application:


Once you have updated your school's dashboard and successfully uploaded all your Green Flag application materials, you will receive email confirmation from Eco-Schools USA.

Eco-Schools USA staff will then assess your application and review your school's progress, and will contact you regarding the status of your Green Flag application.


>> Download a Green Flag Award checklist. This checklist will help you track your school's progress through the Eco-Schools USA program and confirm that you are meeting criteria to apply for a Green Flag Award.


>> Download a press release that you can personalize and send out to publicize that your school has received an Eco-Schools USA award.




The actions noted below must be taken for each of the Seven Steps:

Eco-Action Team (40 points total)

  1. The school has identified an Eco-Action Team which has strong representation from students (at least 50%), and also includes teachers, other school staff and community members. (15 points) 
  2. The group meets a minimum of eight times a year. (15 points)
  3. Students take significant responsibility for conducting the Eco-Action Team meetings, are part of the team's decision-making process, and help keep minutes. (5 points)
  4. Student team members actively engage other students and collect suggestions from the greater student body. (5 points)

Environmental Audit (50 points total)

  1. A formal and comprehensive Environmental Audit of the school is completed (utilizing the Eco-Schools USA checklist) for at least three pathways, one of which is Energy. (20 points)
  2. Students play an active role in conducting the Environmental Audit and engaging resource specialists from the community. (20 points)
  3. Results of the audit are shared with the whole school and local community. (5 points)
  4. An environmental audit is conducted each year to track progress over time. (5 points)

Eco-Action Plan (50 points total)

  1. The Eco-Action Team uses results from the formal Environmental Audit to develop a detailed Eco-Action Plan that includes quantifiable targets and a timeframe for completing them. The plan addresses at least three Eco-Schools pathways, one of which is Energy. (20 points) 
  2. A range of actions are planned to mitigate environmental problems. Targets are prioritized and cost-benefit information is provided for each action. (20 points)
  3. The Eco-Action Plan is shared with the whole school and local community. (10 points) 

Monitoring and Evaluation (50 points total)

  1. The Eco-Action Team monitors and reviews progress against the Eco-Action Plan's timeframe and targets. (15 points)
  2. Successes and challenges are communicated to the whole school and wider community. (5 points)
  3. The school shows significant progress (i.e., the school community understands the issue, recognizes its value to sustainable development and has implemented change) on several large-scale projects addressing at least three Eco-Schools pathways. (5 points)
  4. Students are engaged in portions of monitoring and evaluation and data is used in some curriculum work. (5 points)
  5. Metrics data is included on the award application for the three pathways (or more) on which your school is focusing. (20 points)

Linking to the Curriculum (50 points total)

  1. Students have an opportunity at all grade levels and across disciplines to address environmental issues in the classroom, on the school site and in the greater local community. (20 points)
  2. Students' experiences with environmental issues are integrated into the curriculum and inquiry-based. (15 points)
  3. School staff are provided with professional development and training on best practices, knowledge and skills for environmental education. (15 points)

Involving the Whole Community (30 points total)

  1. The school has a prominent, designated way to communicate with the whole school and greater community such as a bulletin board, website or newsletter which details Eco-Schools activities. (10 points)
  2. The whole school, along with volunteers from throughout the community, engage in a number of Eco-Schools activities. (5 points)
  3. The school plans a special event that engages the greater community in learning about and helping with Eco-Schools projects. (5 points)
  4. Students write about Eco-Schools projects for local papers and magazines. (5 points)
  5. The school shares its Eco-School projects with other schools in the U.S. and with the global community through the Eco-Schools USA website and other communication tools. (5 points) 

Eco-Code (30 points total)

  1. The Eco-Action Team develops an Eco-Code with input from the whole school and greater community. The code is then agreed upon and adopted by the whole school. (15 points)
  2. The Eco-Code is prominently displayed for all to read as they enter the school. (10 points)
  3. The Eco-Code is reviewed each year to ensure that it is still relevant. (5 points)

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Getting Started
Learn About the Steps

It is important that you have moved forward towards establishing each of the Seven Steps before applying for one of the three Eco-School USA awards.

Learn more the Seven Steps.

Find Your Pathways
Using the Seven Step Framework to guide your efforts, Eco-Schools provides you the flexibility to determine which of the ten pathways to sustainability will best help you and your students meet their goals.  Learn more about the ten pathways.
Green Flag Schools
Class with NWF Eco-Schools Green FlayWe've awarded Green Flags to Savannah Country Day School, Boston Latin School, and Lanier Middle School!