Case Study

SSET Case Study #2 - The Green Ambassador Program




Since 2010, the City of Richmond and the Richmond School District partnered together to develop and implement a youth volunteer program named the Richmond Green Ambassadors. This program works to deliver environmentally focused initiatives across the City. These initiatives have included the Richmond Earth Day Youth Summit (REaDY Summit), waste diversion at City facilitated events, and promotion of fish habitat health through storm drain marking and shoreline clean-up events.


The program is administered by the City Green Ambassador Program Coordinator from the Environmental Programs Department at the City, who collaborates with the Richmond School District, to administer volunteer opportunities and coordinates volunteer activities. City staff also coordinate internally to identify City events, environmental training and information sessions, as well as, other opportunities for involvement from Green Ambassadors. The GreenAmbassadors, with the support and mentorship of City and School District Staff, develop and initiate environmental stewardship projects in their schools and the community and participate in a variety of community activities throughout the year, namely promoting waste diversion during events.


By working with youth through the Green Ambassadors, Richmond creates a learning environment where students gain a better understanding about recycling and sustainable waste management and then apply their skills as volunteers and through school activities. The Green Ambassador team is responsible for the development of green leadership and being change agents through demonstration of environmental leadership and stewardship towards the natural environment. The team demonstrates this level of leadership through a number of activities and events.


The Richmond Earth Day Youth (REaDY) Summit is a youth-led conference initiative where Green Ambassadors are responsible for planning and organizing the event. They participate in every aspect of the Summit from the inception of the purpose to the selection of presenters and fulfilling roles during the event such as co-chairs, masters of ceremonies, workshop facilitators and greeters. The Summit is successful in increasing awareness of environmental sustainability, fostering continual interest in recycling and reducing waste, and raising awareness on sustainability issues identified by local youth.

In 2014, the 88 Green Ambassadors who worked on this event dedicated 1,850 hours of volunteer time throughout the school year to organize the event and over 600 delegates attended the events.


Recycling stations are required for all special event bookings taking place in Richmond. For some events, the City hosts recycling stations with assistance from the Green Ambassadors who advise people on how to recycle. In 2014 the Green Ambassadors hosted recycling stations at 8 different events and achieved high diversion rates. Some examples include:

a. Ships to Shore – 92.18% diversion rate
b. Salmon Festival – 88.28% diversion rate
c. Maritime Festival – 85.06% diversion rate
d. REaDY Summit – 97.5% diversion rate


  1. Many of the Green Ambassadors have been a part of the program for several years and are interested in continuing their involvement after graduating high school. There could be opportunity to expand the program by retaining students past high school.

  2. While much of the Green Ambassador’s responsibilities are to manage waste at events there is opportunity to expose them to more training and skills development in different aspects of sustainability to develop real life knowledge and experience. It may be beneficial to provide Green Ambassadors with information about the various events where they volunteer, including all sustainable initiatives, so they could gain and share valuable knowledge to event patrons.

  3. The Green Ambassadors have expressed interest in increasing the number and types of green initiatives and events that they participate in allowing opportunity to expand the program to other sustainable initiatives. These initiatives could include promotion and education of the City of Richmond’s Sustainable Event Toolkit. In order to support the expansion of responsibilities and events more student involvement is necessary, which will require recruitment of dedicated students and graduates.


Green Ambassadors play in integral role in educating the public on sustainable waste management and help ease stress of doing the right thing for event patrons. Their knowledge and dedication to waste management has allowed the City of Richmond to attain very high rates of waste diversion at large scale events making the City a leader in event waste management.

There are passionate students involved in the Green Ambassador program who are developing into leaders for their school and their communities. Opportunity exists to help these individuals further develop their knowledge and skills in support of the City’s sustainable initiatives and to promote all aspects of sustainability at events.

SSET Case Study #1 - City of Richmond Sustainable Program




In late 2013, the City of Richmond was invited to become a development partner with the International Academy of Sport Science Technology/Académie Internationale des Sciences et Techniques du Sport (AISTS) in Lausanne, Switzerland for the development and implementation of the Sustainable Sport and Event Toolkit (SSET). In 2014, a three year partnership with AISTS was approved to promote the City of Richmond as a leader in sport, sustainability, event management and economic development.


A cross-functioning planning team comprised of staff from the City of Richmond and the Richmond Olympic Oval was established to incorporate a Sustainable Sport and Event Toolkit into the Richmond community. In the summer of 2014 the team introduced the AISTS Quick Start Guide to local event planners and organizers for use during the event planning process. After reviewing the feedback provided by event organizers, the team condensed and focused the information provided in the AISTS Quick Start Guide into seven main areas and developed materials tailored specific to community events and environments.

These materials were then tested through a group of six events for feedback before major release into the community.


The team has established four resources to promote sustainable event management and empower local sport and event organizations to host sustainable community events. 1. Richmond Sustainable Event 7 Step Quick Guide: This simple, two page brochure-style guide is visually attractive and contains seveneasy to follow steps and recommendations nearly all event planners can take to further incorporate sustainability into the event planning process.

a. Create a Commitment Statement
b. Reduce Waste and Recycle
c. Make Smart Water Choices
d. Establish a Positive Local Impact
e. Promote Public and Clean Transportation
f. Make Smart Food Choices
g. Support Sustainable Accommodation


  1. Further develop the Sustainable Event Champion program as a means to entice community event organizers to commit to sustainable practices. Through the community events which piloted the Quick Guide and Tool Kit, the team found that while event organizers valued sustainability, many did not have the resources available to prioritize their sustainable efforts. A developed Sustainable Event Champion program with concise criteria, perks, and rewards (such as reduced pricing on recycling and garbage bin fees) may entice community event organizers to make sustainable practices more of a priority during their planning process.

  2. Develop a Sustainable Event Leaders program to train volunteers to be knowledgeable in all areas of the 7 Step Quick Guide and Toolkit. This team of volunteers could be contacted by event organizers looking for additional help during the planning process, and could facilitate the implementation of sustainable practices from their knowledge of available resources. This team would not only empower event organizers with the ability to host more sustainable events, but also empower volunteers in the Richmond community to become leaders in sustainability and add further value to current volunteer positions.

  3. Determine which sustainable features event organizers will be implementing before the event application is submitted. Integrating sustainable requirements into the application process will alert the event organizer to the importance of hosting a sustainable event and will likely become more of a priority during the planning process if the permit is dependent on sustainable actions.

  4. Develop a City of Richmond rental system for resources useful for event planners such as bicycle racks, water stations, fencing, as well as access to volunteers within the City of Richmond database. This rental system would further the City of Richmond’s ability to facilitate a sustainable event planning process, as well as generate revenue which could be used to expand the available resources.


While this initiative has made it easier for event organizers who value and prioritize sustainability to take the necessary steps to make their event more sustainable, the real test will be getting commitment from those who do not have the time or resources to take real action.

This was evident while testing community events, as the team found that while the event organizers were open to participating and valued sustainable practices, they did not have the dedicated means to act on many of the steps. Furthermore, since the program was voluntary, many of the sustainable recommendations were not prioritized.

Two recommendations address this issue: the development of a Sustainable Event Champions program and integrating sustainable requirements into the event application process. Continued development of the Sustainable Event Champion program and a push of sustainable policies enforced by the City will be the keys to success for the City of Richmond Sustainable Event initiative.