Pupils learning in the garden. Copyright by MS Wolfurt.

New school qualities with the Ecolabel

The Austrian Ecolabel for Schools celebrates its 20th anniversary this year! At the awarded schools, the environment is perceived, experienced and treated with care in a special way. Furthermore, the quality of the educational work and the promotion of health are the focus of the activities.

The Ecolabel for schools and teacher training colleges (UZ 301) has been in existence since 2002, so this year we can look back on 20 successful years of this state quality label: it was initiated in 2001 and its criteria were published in 2002. In 2003, the first Austrian schools acquired it after passing the examination.

20-year anniversary. In the coming months, the Austrian Ministry of Climateaction will use the occasion of the 20th anniversary to present Austrian schools that have acquired the Ecolabel. The focus will be on congratulating and recognising the commitment of these schools to education for sustainable development. Combined with a review, an analysis of the current situation of Ecolabel schools and an important outlook into the future of the Austrian school landscape. It is clear that the Austrian Ecolabel has become a formative instrument in Austrian school culture. It promotes the school community in a sustainable way, encourages teachers and pupils, parents, school owners and communities, and makes new things possible.

The Podersdorf Lighthouse on Lake Neusiedl. Copyright by E.Schneider.

The application of a school for the label, the process, the fulfilment of the criteria and finally the certification, but also the subsequent examinations have a multiple influence on the school. This concerns the "internal processes", but also the perception from the outside. Simply because the school is suddenly seen from a completely different perspective "inside" and "outside". Or that specialists discuss environmental issues with the pupils. Then: The Ecolabel is a top award, but after certification it acts like "a lighthouse", as the experienced Innsbruck Ecolabel consultant Peter Warbanoff describes it with a good image. It functions as a "plausible" sign that committed teachers are at work here. Teachers who think alike will try to come to this school. This in turn increases the quality of the school. The Hundertwasser logo is also a signal to parents and pupils: this is an innovative, environmentally responsible school!

Pedagogical expertise is available at many Austrian schools - but unfortunately often little known to the public. Ecolabel schools document their activities, which are evaluated by external auditors as part of the audit. The achievement of the standards required for the Ecolabel is a tremendously important "praise" from the outside and shows the commitment of the school community. After all, the "shining" Ecolabel significantly increases the school's reputation in the public eye. And it offers the school opportunities to present itself attractively in the media.

Presentation of the Ecolabel documents. Copyright by E.Schneider.

Triggered by the application process, different teaching methods are increasingly offered at the school. These accommodate the different types of learners. Projects on the environment and health are carried out that are supported by the entire school. These often create a "we-feeling" for the first time in a public place of learning! Important social skills are acquired "along the way". Pupils, teachers and parents get a taste for it and want "more". Pupils internalise a greater sense of responsibility for the environment and fellow human beings, which has an effect beyond their time at school.


These were only a few aspects regarding the improvement of school quality. Of course, this at the awarded schools also increases the knowledge of regional, organic food, produces less residual waste, uses paper more consciously and consumes less energy as well as mostly cooperates better with the school's owner.

Further information:

Factsheet on the Austrian Ecolabel for Schools

Executive Summary Guideline Austrian Ecolabel for Schools

Evaluation of the Austrian Ecolabel for Schools 2018