Step 3 - Eco-Action Plan

The Eco-Action Plan follows from the results of your Environmental Audit and sets forth a series of goals and a structured timetable for achieving environmental improvements.


What should the Eco-Action Plan include?

Goals should be achievable and provide realistic targets and deadlines to improve the environmental quality of your school. Wherever possible, quantifiable targets should be set, such as a 10% reduction in electricity consumption from the previous year or a 30% reduction in waste over a period of six months. Start with small actions and don't be too ambitious. Instead, strive to ensure success, increase confidence, and build enthusiasm for further work. It is crucial to determine how you will monitor and evaluate your progress, and this should be integrated into your Eco-Action Plan as well.

As with every element of the Eco-Schools USA process, your Eco-Action Plan should be linked to the curriculum and should involve students as much as possible.

eco action plan


What are the steps to create a successful Eco-Action Plan?

1. Gather results from your Environmental Audit. Pick out topics that you want to tackle, such as energy consumption or cafeteria waste. Decide what kinds of actions you can take to improve your school's performance.

2. Decide how you will measure success in achieving your objectives. For example, if you are tackling energy consumption, set up a system that allows you to measure changes in energy usage over time.

3. Negotiate a time frame for each action item. Is the target action to be achieved in the short, medium or long term?

4. Decide who is to be responsible for each action. Students should take as much responsibility as possible.

5. Include a section for monitoring any financial costs you may incur or save based on your activities.

6. Make your Eco-Action Plan accessible to the whole school community through your website or post it in a visible location, such as the school office or library. For examples of Eco-Action Plans, check out the sample plan included in each Eco-Schools Pathway.

Eco-Schools Tip: If your Environmental Audit has shown that your school needs to set numerous targets, do not feel that you have to tackle them all at once. Prioritize them by dividing them into what is achievable in the short, medium and longer term.

Awards Criteria

Bronze Award

  1. Results from the Environmental Audit are used to create a basic action plan that is focused on at least one Eco-Schools pathway.
  2. The Eco-Action Plan is shared with the whole school community.
  3. Some level of action is taken by the school to mitigate environmental problems, focusing on the selected Eco-Schools pathway.

Silver Award

  1. The Eco-Action Team uses results from the formal Environmental Audit to develop a detailed Eco-Action Plan that addresses at least two Eco-Schools pathways and includes specific quantifiable targets with a timeframe for completing them.
  2. A range of action is planned covering more than one aspect of environmental management.
  3. The Eco-Action Plan is shared with the whole school and greater community.

Green Flag Award

  1. The Eco-Action Team uses results from the formal comprehensive Environmental Audit to develop a detailed Eco-Action Plan (including time frame and quantifiable targets).
  2. The Eco-Action Plan consists of a range of actions covering at least three Eco-Schools pathways.
  3. The Eco-Action Plan prioritizes targets.
  4. The Eco-Action Plan provides cost-benefit information for each action.


Sources: Eco-Schools Programme Ireland, Eco-Schools Programme Scotland, Eco-Schools International.

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Green Ribbon Schools
Dept of Education 

The U.S. Department of Education announced in April 2011 the creation of the Green Ribbon Schools program to recognize schools that are creating healthy and sustainable learning environments and teaching environmental literacy. Click here to learn more!

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.