Will Solutions was founded as a means to address climate change proactively here in Canada. As an environmental engineer, I recognized that one of the greatest contributors we have locally can be attributed to the greenhouse gasses (GHGs) emitted by buildings – a particular reality in Canada on account of our being an industrialized nation in a cold climate. Buildings are currently responsible for around 131 megatonnes – similar to the emissions from 28 million vehicles over the course of a year.
By 2009, I devised a methodology called the Sustainable Community in response to this reality. The Sustainable Community financially rewards commercial building owners for engaging in projects that reduce the carbon footprint associated with their buildings – for example, changing their fuel source or diverting waste away from landfills. This works by converting the associated GHG reductions into carbon credits, which we then sell on the Voluntary Carbon Markets. Corporations locally and around the world pay for these carbon credits, and we, in turn, return 80 per cent of the proceeds back to the members of our Sustainable Community.
At the end of the day, we help reduce the number of GHGs emitted in Canada and support the local economy in the process.
Tell us about yourself?
I’m an engineer with a master’s in environmental sciences. I started by carrying out hundreds of energy efficiency audits and then operating international hazardous waste management. At the beginning of the 1990s, I acted as an expert in carrying out several mandates around the world, on four continents, on behalf of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). I got tired of writing pretty reports with nice recommendations. I then decided to pivot from consultant to entrepreneur and implement the recommendations I prescribed to others.
If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
- Be more patient and persevere beyond the current economic and geopolitical situation.
- Be flexible to continuous and rapid change.
- Keep the focus on the long term.
What problem does your business solve?
Climate change! Well, that’s what our business is all about: reducing the amount of greenhouse gasses emitted in Canada. We do this by helping other organizations finance their climate action. There is much work to be done in the work towards Net Zero in Canada, and we are doing our part to meet that lofty goal.
What is the inspiration behind your business?
As an environmental engineer and entrepreneur, I jumped at the opportunity to take action now on what I recognized was a pressing issue: I wanted to apply my expertise to help address the looming climate crisis. There were a lot of warnings being discussed internationally and locally, and I felt not enough was being done. Carbon credits were still fairly new when we started, and experts, including the United Nations, recognized that they should play a vital role as a financial tool in encouraging the type of projects that would help address the crisis.
What is your magic sauce?
A well-designed methodology and business model are key to our success – and as it turns out, our Sustainable Community is one of a kind in the world. Quality was always at the forefront of fine-tuning the methodology, which is why we worked with Verra – the global leader in the voluntary carbon markets – to ensure that our carbon credits would be independently verified as having the intended climate impact.
What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?
My plan is for the year 2030:
- 200,000 buildings connected to our Sustainable Communities around the world.
- Convert 100 million tons of GHG reduction into carbon credits.
- Sell these credits and return CAD 2 billion to our members to finance their climate projects.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
- Support our innovative economic model with appropriate financing.
- Automate our process and complete a carbon platform to support big data.
- Work to engage stakeholders beyond climate fatigue.
How can people get involved?
We are in the unique position of needing organizations to get involved in two ways. We act as a climate change facilitator between GHG reduction activities and carbon credit buyers. First, we are always seeking new members for our Sustainable Community (which is free of charge). They are the ones that help PRODUCE the GHG reductions, which we convert into the carbon credits we sell. We also need corporate BUYERS for our carbon credits.
Generally, our producers are small businesses – those that know they have the opportunity to reduce their GHGs where the cost may make the decision prohibitive. Our model provides the financing they need. Our buyers, on the other hand, are normally slightly larger organizations or those with higher “visibility”. Buyers want to demonstrate to their clients, employees, and the public that they are good corporate citizens, and as part of that endeavour, they want to support climate action. While they should always first avoid and reduce GHG-producing activities, they can offset those incompressible emissions by supporting others who can.