To ensure buy-in on climate goals, the Sustainable DC Ambassador program trains Washington, D.C., residents to engage with their communities and make sustainability accessible and relevant for everyone, while tracking data on the results of the engagement.

The Sustainable DC Ambassadors Program is a community volunteer program in the American capital. The program trains District residents to talk to their neighbors about the importance of energy efficiency, renewable energy, water conservation, and sustainable materials management, and how these issues impact their daily lives. Through its online tracking program, Ambassadors’ outreach is recorded to ensure that messages are being spread to as many people as possible, and that a diverse array of neighborhoods, particularly disadvantaged communities, are reached. In 2013, staff and volunteers had 6,320 conversations and 127 community events; the next year, they spoke to 8,030 people at 132 events. The program is on track to increase its numbers even further in 2015.

50% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2032 in Washington, D.C., supported by Sustainable DC Ambassadors

Cities100 – 2015

With a strong emphasis on underserved populations within the city, the 60 trained Sustainable DC Ambassadors of the 2015 program engage their communities in meaningful conversations about sustainability at a level that is not possible when delivered by government representatives alone. The program helps the city achieve its 2032 climate goals, such as reducing water consumption by 40% and reducing waste generation by 15%.

The challenge

Without strong community buy-in and subsequent action, the District will not be able to reach its sustainability or climate goals. By training a diverse pool of outgoing residents from across the city on the importance of sustainability and climate programs, along with specific action residents can take, the District has been much more successful in engaging the broader community and making progress towards its goals.


Economic Promoting energy efficiency in homes has the added benefit of lowering monthly household energy bills.

Environmental Citywide renewable energy use increased from 11.4% in 2012 to 13.2% in 2015, supported by Sustainable DC Ambassadors.

Health With the help of the Sustainable DC Ambassadors, the District of Columbia achieved a 15% and 14% increase in commuting by bicycle and walking, respectively, between 2012 and 2014.

About Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C., commonly referred to as “Washington”, or simply “D.C.”, is the capital of the United States. Washington had an estimated population of 681,170 as of July 2016. Commuters from the surrounding Maryland and Virginia suburbs raise the city’s population to more than one million during the workweek.

Washington D.C.

Washington, D.C.
View profile

Global Goals addressed