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Will Solutions takes community-based carbon credits model to Ontario

Will Solutions is taking its Sustainable Community model into Ontario to encourage smaller businesses and organizations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. (Courtesy Will Solutions) 

Will Solutions, a Beloeil, Que.-based company, is expanding into Ontario to widen the scope of its community-based carbon credit program that incentivizes offsets for smaller firms and organizations.

It has created a methodology known as ‘Sustainable Communities’ — an umbrella group for micro-projects that identify opportunities to generate carbon credits from smaller greenhouse gas (GHG) polluters.

Those opportunities are then sold on the voluntary carbon market (VCM) to incentivize carbon offsets that return some of the revenues back to the member. 

Founded in 1998, Will Solutions joined the VCM space in 2007. It is entering Ontario to help Canada reach its climate targets.

How Sustainable Communities works

Will Solutions starts by calculating the carbon footprint of the client to discover areas for reducing GHG emissions. It encompasses Scopes 1, 2 and 3 under the ISO 14064-1: 2018 standard.

Next, it provides the GHG emissions figures to the client, along with decarbonization recommendations that Will Solutions sees as having the most relevance to its industry and activities. Then, Will Solutions adds the client to its Sustainable Community, whereupon those solutions can be implemented.

Reductions come in the form of three kinds of microprojects: energy conversion, energy efficiency and waste optimization.

After these projects are in place, Will Solutions tracks the greenhouse gas reductions and verifies the numbers through the nonprofit Verra.

Will Solution’s marketing and communications manager Raphaël Pittavino-Varitto said Verra ensures its carbon credits are checked for transparency and standards such as additionality, single-counting and permanence.

Verra also validates the company’s efforts and the Sustainable Communities methodology.

The difference in tons of GHGs are entered into the VCMs as carbon credits, with one credit equal to a ton of carbon dioxide equivalent.

The client company is responsible for financing its GHG reduction project(s).

Will Solutions returns 45 per cent of the sales revenue of the carbon credit back to the member. In 2022, that amounted to $2 million to its Sustainable Communities members, Pittavino-Varitto said.

Helping smaller companies decarbonize

Will Solutions tailors Sustainable Communities for small-sized industrial, commercial or industrial sites and installations emitting less than 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year. It was designed to encourage carbon offsetting among smaller emitters not accounted for in Quebec’s cap and trade program.

There is also the desire to support qualitative actions that can scale quickly to meet the short deadline for Canada’s 2030 and 2050 climate goals, Pittavino-Varitto said.

“To ensure the quality of our members’ GHG reduction projects on one side and to ensure scale and that’s why we are mutualizing the access to voluntary carbon markets for our members so they don’t have any initial costs, they don’t need to spend internal resources on it, they don’t need to advance any fee."

Will Solutions handles marketing and communications for its members, the selling of the carbon credits and explaining how the carbon credits work and where they are located.

“We are covering all the risks and all the costs into this from a sales and marketing perspective so it can make more genuine sense for smaller companies to finance their GHG reduction projects with us,” he said.

Entering Ontario

Will Solutions is making its debut in Ontario because it is hoping to finance and support GHG reduction on a local level at scale, according to Pittavino-Varitto. He noted how Ontario has more corporate buildings compared to Quebec, which means more potential for its service.

The company will start with a Sustainable Community Ontario umbrella project that will resemble the one in Quebec. It is in the final drafting phase.

A release states final registration from Verra should be formalized by June 2023, and registration in Ontario is open for micro-projects.

Will Solutions’ clients and goals

As of March 2021, Will Solutions claimed to have over 155 members of Sustainable Communities with over 850 GHG reduction micro-projects supported.

Some examples are installing a geothermal system, solar panels and radiant floors in the Auberge Sacacomie inn in Saint-Alexis-des-Monts, Que., and optimizing energy efficiency in the 780 Brewster Building in Montreal.

Those micro-projects resulted in 6.4 million tons of CO2 equivalent being removed from 2010 to 2019, according to the company.

Some of the carbon credit purchasers Pittavino-Varitto named include St-Hubert, BMO Financial Group and National Bank of Canada.

Will Solutions’ vision is to lead decarbonization in Quebec and Ontario. Pittavino-Varitto said Will Solutions wants to remove an additional 34 million tons of CO2 equivalent between 2020 to 2029 in Quebec, and 50 million tons of CO2 equivalent between 2023 and 2028 in Ontario (about five per cent of Ontario’s current emissions).

The company is looking to automate its process and add transport-related GHG reductions as an eligible project for Sustainable Communities.

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