Missouri Green Schools

Statewide recognition fostering a systems-based approach towards holistic, school-wide, and long-term sustainability.


Missouri Green Schools (MGS) is an ongoing program for PreK-12th grade schools in Missouri that supports growth through a continuous loop of tracking and advancing sustainability practices, ultimately cultivating a culture of sustainability at the school. Schools may enroll at any time and recognition is offered annually across five levels.

Schools with 60% or more of their students qualifying for free or reduced-priced lunch are eligible for additional support including access to one-on-one assistance in navigating the program, setting goals, tracking progress and accessing resources.



Schools can enroll at any time to begin their self-guided journey using MGS tools. To begin, a school representative simply fills out the Enrollment Form. MGS staff will then reach out to share next steps. View the Levels of Achievement and Navigating the Program sections below for additional info on what to expect as you progress through the program.

Levels of Achievement

Participating schools are honored annually at emerging, progressing and advanced levels for their achievements across five levels of recognition. Criteria are rooted in best practices and scaffolded to support growth towards long-term, whole-school sustainability.

Navigating the Program

Getting Started: Four Simple Steps to Seed Recognition

After enrolling, complete these four items to achieve Level 1: Seed recognition! This level honors commitment to taking the initial steps towards advancing green and healthy practices.


  • Submit a Letter of Commitment – A sample letter / template is viewable here (PDF). Click here to ‘Make a Copy’ of this letter which you can edit.
  • Do a Quick Assessment of your School’s Green Efforts – Use this baseline self-assessment to discuss your school’s present circumstances (click here to create an editable copy). A list of yes or no questions, this baseline document is a nice guide for beginning to note what your school has accomplished and to identify additional actions you’d like to take. It takes about 30 minutes to complete and can be completed individually or as a team if you already have allies identified.
  • Identify at Least 1 Goal Aligned with a START Topic – Perhaps you already have a goal in mind. If not, consider looking at the actions outlined in the next section – such as setting up a Green Team or beginning to benchmark energy usage – or consider items outlined in the baseline self-assessment. View an outline of START Topics (START stands for the Sustainability Tracking, Analytics, & Roadmap Tool.)
  • Set Up Your School’s START Profile The primary tool that is used to navigate the MGS program is called the Sustainability Tracking and Roadmap Tool (START). START, which includes 53 Topics – each with 3 tiers of varying difficulty, has been developed by the Green Schools Alliance. Follow the instructions under ‘Set Up Your Account’ here.
Gaining Momentum: Steps for Achieving Sprout and Beyond

Congratulations! You have taken the first steps towards greening your school. Now it’s time to build your team and grow your practices. Levels 2 – 5 recognize schools that have established a Green Team and achieved varying degrees of START Topics and natural resource use benchmarking or reduction. See the MGS Recognition Levels table for more details.


  • Establish a Green Team The next step is to assemble a Green Team. An ideal team includes representation from a variety of roles and perspectives, such as teachers, facilities staff, administration, health and nutrition. It’s great to consider student, parent, and community representation as well. Having representation from a diverse group of stakeholders increases the possibilities for implementing sustainable, whole-school changes. If you do not yet have a team, or if you have a team but find that it would be valuable to expand your team further, this resource is one we’ve developed to help with green team recruitment. Once your team is established, we encourage you to revisit or retake the baseline self-assessment together. Doing so can generate lots of discussion and excitement! 
  • Explore START and Begin Tracking Your Accomplishments – The Sustainability Tracking and Roadmap Tool (START) will be used to benchmark your progress and track your accomplishments throughout your green school journey. Schools will be eligible to enroll in START once they have completed all Seed level requirements and begin working on Sprout level requirements. Begin by getting acquainted with START Topics (53 Topics are covered and divided into three categories: Educational Programs, Organizational Culture, and Physical Place.) Then, enter your school’s data and track your progress. 
  • Begin to Measure and Reduce Your Natural Resource Use – Using Energy Star Portfolio Manager to track energy, water and waste is a best practice that is built into the recognition levels of Missouri Green Schools and will also help to answer some of the questions in START – so this will be a great place to direct efforts. This Energy Star Benchmarking How-To Guide can help you to get started. (Note that it is possible that your school already uses Energy Star Portfolio Manager. As outlined in the how-to guide, contacting your school/district’s Facilities and/or Finance Department is a great way to find out.) While Energy Star Portfolio Manager is a free tool that is recommended, schools may use alternate tools to measure their natural resource use.

Getting Recognized

Honorees are announced annually in October.  If a school would like to be reviewed for recognition they must fill out the Review Request Form by June 30. School materials will be reviewed over the summer in preparation for the annual MGS Honoree announcement in the fall.


Congratulations to the 2023 Missouri Green Schools honorees!


  • Bridgeway Elementary School
  • Central High School
  • City Garden Montessori School
  • Holland Elementary
  • Marvin Elementary School
  • Normandy Early Childhood Center
  • Oakville Elementary School
  • St. Teresa’s Academy


  • Brittany Woods Middle School
  • Central Primary School
  • Crestwood Elementary
  • Hixson Middle School
  • Patrick Henry Downtown Academy


  • Flance Early Learning Center
  • Forsyth School
  • Nerinx Hall
  • Principia School
  • Sunrise R-9 School

View the list of 2022 MGS Honorees

View the list of 2021 MGS Honorees

Normandy ECC

“This is awesome, can’t wait.”

Ms. Johnson, Teacher, Normandy Early Childhood Center, Normandy Schools Collaborative, Normandy, MO

Bridgeway Elementary

“The best part about incorporating sustainability practices at Bridgeway has been seeing the impact it has had on students and staff.  From students teaching other students about the importance of reducing waste to classrooms raising, tagging and releasing monarch butterflies in the garden, we know that little steps of change can make a big difference.  Some students have said it best!   Eli says, “When we do good things for Earth, we also do good things for people!”  Chloe added that, “My favorite part about teaching classrooms was seeing kids get excited about making less trash and saving the earth!”

Eli and Chloe, Students, Jeanne Fernandez, Reading Specialist, Bridgeway Elementary School, Pattonville School District, Pattonville, MO

City Garden Montessori

 “At City Garden Montessori School, students are exposed to many nature learning opportunities in our outdoor learning spaces. Alongside our goal to instill a great sense of social justice and global citizenship, students are empowered to work towards social change, environmental protection, and community transformation. It is our goal to continue to build on our foundation of school-wide sustainability measures by making more connections with our growing community. We are really looking forward to our student-led nature-play outdoor equipment STEAM project and new chicken coop initiative involving students and families. We appreciate all the support of Missouri Green Schools! Thank you for the Sprout Level recognition this year!”

– Lauren Denney, Outdoor Educator, City Garden Montessori, Independent, St. Louis, MO

St. Teresa's Academy

“Missouri Green Schools has provided us with a framework to help us implement sustainability initiatives in our school. Our students are very invested in making positive change within our school and community and we look forward to achieving our goals!”

–Sarah Holmes, Science Teacher, St. Teresa’s Academy, Private, Kansas City, MO

Crestwood Elementary

Through our commitment to sustainable practices, we have created a culture of responsibility and empathy for our environment and all living things. Crestwood Elementary is not just a place of learning, it’s a real life example of how small actions can make a big impact and inspire positive change in the world.

Beth Bridwell, English Language Specialist, Crestwood Elementary, Lindbergh School District, St. Louis, MO

Flance ELC

“Flance is committed to introducing environmental consciousness at a young age to teach our children, families and staff about making sustainable life choices for a healthy future, along with showing them why it’s important to take care of our planet.”

– Stephanie Ayotte, Toddler Classroom Educator, Flance Early Learning Center, St. Louis Public Schools, St. Louis, MO 

Forsyth School

Members of the Forsyth School community strive to be better caretakers of the Earth with the help of the Missouri Green School’s sustainability suggestions. Last year, students led these efforts with their enthusiasm and developing knowledge through the Waste Ambassador group as well as through a “turn the lights off campaign.”

Susan Zareh, Grade 6 Math Teacher and Sustainability Specialist, and Christine Torlina, Early Childhood Science Specialist, Forsyth School, Independent. St. Louis, MO

Hixson Middle

The students at Hixson Middle School have stepped up and started making meaningful changes in both our building as well as our community.  Learning about, and putting into place action plans that have a positive impact on their surroundings such as creating a classroom recycling program and creating a large outdoor sustainable classroom area.  We plan to continue our learning journey, one step at a time, trying our best to make positive differences in the lives of those around us.”

– Eric Hayes, Teacher, Hixson Middle School, Webster Groves School District, Webster Groves, MO

Holland Elementary

“Sustainability has made our school community better in so many ways! We now do things to take care of our planet, like recycling and using less energy. Our school garden teaches us about growing our own food, and it’s fun too. We’ve learned about saving water and using less plastic. It’s not just good for the Earth; it’s good for us too, because we’re healthier and happier when we help the environment!”

– Michelle Peak, Green Club Coordinator, Holland Elementary, Springfield Public School District, Springfield, MO

Marvin Elementary

Marvin Elementary is proud to be honored this year at the Sprout level with Missouri Green Schools. Marvin has adopted a new cultivation of curiosity mindset when it comes to sustainability. We are looking forward this year to growing our green team and expanding our sustainability efforts within our school, district, and community. Our efforts are aimed to make our school a more “green” place to be! This year we have our sights set on achieving the Seedling level by establishing a “Green Team” and creating a school-wide goal centered around sustainability. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Missouri Green Schools and are grateful for the support of the Green Schools Community!

–Dr. Craig Thurman, Principal, Marvin Elementary, Ritenour School District, St. Louis, MO

Patrick Henry

“The Patrick Henry Downtown Academy community has benefited greatly by the vast sustainability efforts we’ve put into place. Our hope is that the merger of environmental and academic education will open the window of opportunities for our scholars in a way that cultivates their growth and prepares them for the future.”

– Dr. Chavon Curry, Principal, Patrick Henry Downtown Academy, St. Louis Public Schools, St. Louis, MO

Principia School

“At Principia, I love that as we increase our intentionality around sustainability, our community can understand how these actions are a powerful way to love our planet, care for our resources, and support the wellbeing of people.”

– Lynne Scott, Science Teacher and Sustainability Coordinator, Principia School, Independent, St. Louis, MO

Brittany Woods Middle School

At Brittany Woods MIddle School, students apply the principles of sustainability not just to the planet, but to their own lives. Our community is lifted as students develop personal and group empowerment, manage their resources with increasing thoughtfulness, and work together to create a supportive school environment. 

– Anne Cummings, Sustainability Teacher, Brittany Woods Middle School, University City School District, University City, MO

Central High School

“At Central High School, sustainability initiatives have the potential to positively transform school communities by fostering environmental awareness, reducing costs, providing educational opportunities, and promoting a sense of community and responsibility. These changes contribute to a more vibrant and forward-thinking school environment.”

–Paul Epps, Teacher, Central High School, Springfield Public School District, Springfield, MO

MGS Tools & Resources

A handful of key resources for Missouri Green Schools are highlighted here. Visit our Resources page to access the full library of resources that support the entire suite of Show-Me Green Schools programs.

Show-Me Green Schools Partner Network

The Partner Network consists of nonprofit and for-profit organizations and programs that can help a school advance in one or more of the green schools pillars. Learn more about the Partner Network here!  Access a searchable directory of partners and their services here. If you have resources to share, take our partner survey and become part of the Network.

Green Team Recruitment

An ideal team includes representation from a variety of roles and perspectives, such as teachers, facilities, administration, and health. Having representation from a diverse group of stakeholders increases the possibilities for implementing sustainable, whole-school changes. If you do not yet have a team, or if you have a team but find that it would be valuable to expand your team further, this resource is one we’ve developed to help with green team recruitment.

START: Sustainability Tracking, Analytics, & Roadmap Tool

START is the primary tool that MGS enrollees use to track and document their achievements. The tool, which has been developed by the Green Schools Alliance, includes 53 Topics, each with 3 tiers of varying difficulty. Click here to learn more about START. View a list of START Topics here. Access the START Tracking Tool Step-by-Step Guide here. Contact MGS staff with questions about accessing your START account.

Baseline Self-Assessment

 Use this baseline self-assessment to discuss your school’s present circumstances (click here to create an editable copy). A list of yes or no questions, this document is a nice guide for beginning to note what your school has accomplished and identify additional actions you’d like to take. It takes about 30 minutes to complete and can be completed individually or as a team if you already have allies identified.

Letter of Commitment

A Letter of Commitment signed by school administration is required in order to recieve recognition. A sample letter is viewable here (PDF). Click here to ‘Make a Copy’ of this letter which you may edit.

Energy Star Portfolio Manager

Using Energy Star Portfolio Manager to track energy, water and waste is a best practice that is built into the recognition levels of MGS and will also help to answer some of the questions in START – so this will be a great place to direct efforts. This Energy Star Benchmarking How-To Guide can help you to get started.

Case Studies

Nurturing the Young as a Catalyst for Healthy Communities – Flance ELC

Creative Collaboration – Sunrise School

Bench Marking and Goal Setting – Parkway School District

Student Leadership in Sustainability Education – Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School


Check out our FAQs below. For additional questions, contact us.

Why participate in Missouri Green Schools?

Missouri Green Schools is a free program aimed at meeting schools where they are and helping them reach their sustainability goals.

What is the annual timeline of Missouri Green Schools?

Schools can enroll in Missouri Green Schools at any time during the year and must submit their Request for Review by the June 30 deadline, if they are planning on moving on to the next level. After MGS admin has reviewed every request, schools will be honored in October.

What schools participate in Missouri Green Schools?

This map showcases participation across all three of the programs under the Show-Me Green Schools umbrella. To view only Missouri Green Schools participation, deselect the checkboxes for the other two programs. For a full list of program participants, please visit showmegreenschools.org.

What does it mean to be a mentor to other schools (listed as criteria in Flowering Dogwood)?

Still in development.

What resources are available for schools participating in Missouri Green Schools?

Missouri Green Schools provides a variety of case studies and how-to guides, as well as green team resources and access to our partner network on this webpage. The Green Schools Alliance offers the START tool for schools Sprout level and above and various how-to guides for schools on any level, as well as any individual willing to access them. Registration as a member of the Green Schools Alliance is required to access these how-to guides, but it is free and fairly easy to do so.

What is the Request for Review?

The Request for Review is the form schools submit to Missouri Green Schools that alerts our admin to evaluate a school’s readiness to move on to the next level. Since Missouri Green Schools is intended to be self-guided, admin does not evaluate schools throughout the year, unless prompted by the Request for Review form. Schools must submit their Request for Review by June 30 for consideration so MGS admin can begin review in July.

What recognition levels are presented, and how are they determined?

Our recognition levels are Seed, Sprout, Seedling, Sapling, and Flowering Dogwood. For more information on the criteria and benefits, please follow this link.

What impact is Missouri Green Schools having?

Missouri Green Schools encourages students and teachers to solve classroom problems through an environmental education lens. With an environmental education background, teachers tend to further connect with their students and engage them in topics of sustainability and wellness.

How do I get connected with the Missouri Green Schools forum?

To join the Show-Me Green Schools discussion forum, follow this link to login or register.

What programs are offered in the Show-Me Green Schools suite?

Show-Me Green Schools is a suite of three programs including the Green Schools Quest (GSQ), Missouri Green Schools (MGS), and the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS).

Can I participate in more than one program in the Show-Me Green Schools suite simultaneously?

Schools can choose to participate in one program within the umbrella, or leverage participation in all three.

How does Missouri Green Schools connect with the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools program?

Missouri Green Schools recommends schools to the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools program for national recognition.

Does enrollment in Missouri Green Schools last indefinitely or expire?

Enrollment in Missouri Green Schools does last indefinitely, but a school’s status may change from “active” to “inactive” after a period of two years with no communication to MGS staff.

Do you host any opportunities for Missouri Green Schools participants to connect?

Missouri Green Schools hosts its annual Meet, Greet, Connect and Share in January as an avenue for schools to connect with one another and share their sustainability goals and progress. MGS enrollees are also encouraged to attend the Connect on the Quest series, designed for Green Schools Quest participants but open to participants in all our programs!

Who should be on the committee, or "green team", to support this work?

Green Teams ideally consist of enthusiastic individuals who want to build their school’s capacity for sustainable practices. These individuals can be administrators, faculty, staff, parents, community members, students, alumni, and so much more. 

I don't know who I should talk to, or where to go to answer some of these questions. Do you have any pointers?

Please check out our What’s in it for me? document for tips on green team recruitment. This document lays out the benefits of joining a green team for teachers, students, custodians, school boards, and so many more. 

Are any trainings provided?

Once schools are ready for the Sprout level, they are eligible to register for START. All schools who register for START must meet with START admin for an hour-long virtual walkthrough of the website. MGS+ schools are entitled to 1:1 monthly check-ins that provide ongoing personal development to help build capacity.

What is START?

START is an acronym for Sustainability Tracking, Analytics, and Roadmapping Tool. This tool tracks your starting point and progress across 53 sustainability-related metrics split into three categories (Organizational Culture, Physical Place, and Educational Program).

What Metrics or Topics are included in START?

There are 53 sustainability-related metrics divided into three categories: Organizational Culture, Physical Place, and Educational Programming. For a full list of those metrics, please visit this webpage.

What is the START Survey?

The START “Survey” is a process that takes schools through all 53 metrics and ensures that they are aware of any updates.

What kind of access and/or training will I receive?

When you fulfill the requirements for the Seed level and are moving on to Sprout, please email info@showmegreenschools.org to notify MGS staff that you are ready for START. If you are an MGS+ school, MGS staff will fill out a START registration form for you. If you are an MGS school, MGS staff will send you the registration form to complete independently. From there, a member of START admin will contact you to schedule a 30-minute walkthrough of the START dashboard.

What does MGS+ mean?

Schools with 60% or more students receiving free and reduced-price lunch are automatically enrolled in MGS+, where they are eligible for extra support, monthly 1-on-1 meetings with MGS staff, and extra funding as available.

Can I enroll in MGS+ if my school's free and reduced price lunch percentage is below 60%?

Schools without 60% or more students receiving free and reduced-price lunch will not be eligible to enroll in MGS+.

How do I pick the right point person for START?

Your START point person could be the same person as primary or secondary contact; ideally someone comfortable with using a tech-based online dashboard; this could be a community partner, parent, student, or whoever you choose.

I can't log into my START account. Who do I contact?

If you are having issues with logging in, please email info@showmegreenschools.org to regain access.

The criteria for the more advanced levels reference achieving “Tier 2 or higher” for START metrics in specific categories (Educational Programming, Organizational Culture, Physical Place). What does this mean? / Can you explain the Tiers? What metrics fall within each category?

In the START tool, metrics are divided into Tiers that depict increasing levels of activity/impact. There are 8 Educational Programming metrics, 20 Organizational Culture metrics, and 23 Physical Place metrics to choose from. We have outlined a pathway to significant, Whole-School impact by ensuring that schools simultaneously address metrics that are nested within each of the 3 spheres (Educational Programming/Organizational Culture/Physical Place).

I see we’re supposed to identify 1 goal and the START metric it aligns with. Can we come up with any goal we want? How do we communicate this goal to MGS staff?

Schools can identify any 1 goal they wish, so long as that goal aligns with one of the START metrics. You will communicate this goal to MGS staff by emailing info@showmegreenschools.org.

Who can I reach out to for help?

Please contact info@showmegreenschools or hayes@meea.org for assistance.

What is Energy STAR Portfolio Manager

Energy STAR Portfolio Manager is a benchmarking tool that shows the amount of energy, waste, and water consumption of a determined building. Follow this link for more information on signing up for and using Energy STAR. Here is a list of Energy STAR resources specifically for K-12 schools.

What are the benefits of measuring natural resources use, and using Energy STAR Portfolio Manager to do so?

When measuring natural resource use, schools have the opportunity to track their regular rates of resource usage, revisit abnormalities in that usage (i.e. a spike in water usage that indicates a leak), and lower their overall usage, sometimes resulting in financial benefit from lowered use of natural resources.

What is an Energy STAR score? Where does 75 fall within the range of possible scores?

An Energy STAR score takes into account the physical attributes, purpose, and amount of traffic in your building, so it is tailored to each school. A score of 75 means that your building is a top energy performer and may qualify for Energy STAR certification.

How do I measure a portion vs. the entire school when measuring energy, water and waste?

Energy and Water: There aren’t many ways to gather only a portion of a school’s energy usage since the systems are connected throughout the building. Most school buildings have one main electricity, natural gas meter, and water meter and that usage information is available on utility bills. Classes can conduct energy audits as a learning exercise by having students collect information on the lights, electronic devices, and appliances they have in their spaces to find ways to save energy, but these audits won’t include the largest use of energy in a school, heating and cooling systems.


  • Whole school:
    • Some waste haulers can provide volume estimate reports monthly
    • Find out your dumpster size from the waste hauler and have students record how full each dumpster is before pick up days. They can calculate monthly waste volume based on dumpster size, % each dumpster is full, and number of pick ups per month. Have students look for trends in which months have the most waste and try to figure out why.
  • Portion of school:
    • The con to using a representative sample method is that the estimates could be very misleading based on when the measurements are conducted. If only auditing waste a few times per year, try to pick days that are most representative of a “normal” school day to get the most accurate measurements. For example, it would inflate your waste estimates to do the audit on locker clean out or holiday party days and under-represent waste if measured on field trip days. 
    • Weigh the different waste streams from a representative sample of classrooms (at least 20-30% of total classrooms and from different grades) to get an average classroom waste volume and multiply by the total number of classrooms.
    • Conduct a cafeteria waste audit a few times throughout the school year or monthly to weigh each of the different waste streams and calculate an annual average.
    • Combine the classroom waste and cafeteria waste estimates for an annual building level estimate.
Do you have any tips or guidance on waste measurement?

Please visit this webpage for more tips on measuring waste.

Do you have any tips or guidance on water measurement?

For tips on measuring water usage, please visit this webpage and listen to this recording on water-saving topics.

Do you have any tips or guidance on energy measurement?

Please visit this webpage for more tips on using clean energy, this webpage to learn more about the EPA’s Green Power Partnership, and this webpage for more information on clean energy financing programs.

Will my school’s higher energy usage during a construction project count against our efforts to lower overall school energy usage?

Missouri Green Schools understands that schools go through large-scale changes beyond the scope of sustainability, and will take into account any abnormal usage due to those changes. Please note these changes in your Request for Review.

Do I have to fulfill the criteria of the prior level before I attempt to fulfill the criteria of another?

Missouri Green Schools levels build upon one another, so you must fulfill criteria of the previous level before moving on to the next level.

How do I update primary or secondary contact information?

When you have identified new primary and/or secondary contacts, please place that information in your school’s annual Request for Review so that MGS staff can update the database.

Where can I find the Snapshot Forms?

Snapshot Forms can be found on the START website. Click on a metric you have completed, and click on the blue button that reads ‘Add Attachments’.

What are Snapshot Forms?

Snapshot Forms are brief questionnaires which gather details on the actions you are taking. Schools typically accompany these questionnaires with photos.