To offset the scope 1 and scope 2 GHG emissions that it is unable to reduce, Université Laval relies on various means, in particular its carbon sink, the Montmorency Forest.

The Montmorency Forest carbon sink

The Montmorency Forest carbon sink

The Montmorency Forest is the largest teaching and research forest in the world, totalling 412 km2. Since 1964, Université Laval students have had the opportunity to learn about good practices in forestry, forest management, forest protection, and logging, while researchers have been able to conduct studies in this open sky laboratory. The Forest has been certified according to the Boreal Standard of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and is organized in a sustainable manner.

As a carbon sink, the forest plays a key role in the university’s GHG reduction strategy. It can absorb an average of 13,945 tons of CO2 equivalent per year. This calculation, which is based on an approach validated by a scientific committee, is used by the university for its carbon footprint assessment.

A carbon sink is a natural or artificial reservoir that absorbs carbon from the atmosphere and helps decrease the amount of atmospheric CO2. Tree planting is one way to create a carbon sink.



A forest generally emits as much carbon as it captures in its natural state. In a way, forests are carbon neutral in the sense that there is a balance between the growing young trees that absorb large amounts of CO2 through photosynthesis, and old decaying trees, which emit more CO2 than they absorb.

However, when a forest is managed, as is the case for the Montmorency Forest, it is possible to measure the contribution of this management on carbon uptake in comparison to a forest in its natural state. This sort of arrangement may therefore enable the forest to absorb more CO2 than it produces (favourable variance). The forest thus becomes a carbon sink, and this favourable variance can be recognized as a carbon offset for the forest owner or manager.


Scientific Committee

A scientific committee was formed to validate the scientific hypotheses underlying certain UL initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.



The Séminaire de Québec carbon sink

Partnership with the Séminaire de Québec

For a fixed five-year period, the Séminaire has offered the university carbon credits equivalent to 7,550 tonnes of CO2 per year. The carbon credits are generated by the additional amount of carbon stored and retained in the forest biomass due to the reduction of its annual forest harvest on a portion of the Seigneurie de Beaupré.

In order to generate this volume of carbon credits, the Séminaire has created two conservation areas on Seigneurie de Beaupré, which it has agreed to exclude from its production by halting forest harvesting operations in these two areas.

Purchase of carbon credits

Partners in the purchase of carbon credits

In order to achieve campus carbon neutrality, Université Laval must purchase carbon credits on the market. To do this, it can count on two value added partnerships:



Ecotierra is a company based in Sherbrooke that generates carbon credits by developing high quality forestry and agricultural projects with major socio-economic impacts for local populations as well as positive environmental impacts.

Ecotierra develops innovative local and international projects that generate carbon credits, and Université Laval has been granted access to them as scientific testing grounds. In return, the university has offered active collaboration and scientific expertise in sustainable forest management, management and exploitation of forests for the carbon market, and evaluation of the challenges and effects of this management method on forests.


National EcoCredit

National EcoCredit is a leader in North America in the quantification and negotiation of environmental attributes. Since 2005, National EcoCredit has traded over 1.3 million carbon credits. Université Laval will partner with National EcoCredit for the purchase of carbon credits in order to reach campus carbon neutrality.


Financial aspects

To finance the purchase of carbon credits, Université Laval uses the savings from its budgetary envelope for energy due to energy efficiency measures developed during the last few years. Furthermore, the university plans to actively pursue its efforts to reduce GHG emissions in order to progressively diminish its need for carbon credits.





Voluntary Offset Program

Université Laval’s approach to climate change includes implementation of a voluntary greenhouse gas offset program. This program allows members of the university community to monetarily compensate for their GHG emissions. Université Laval has committed to matching the amounts that employees and students contribute as part of the voluntary GHG offset program. This contribution will be disbursed annually to carry out some sort of sustainable initiative on campus.








Travel by car

GHG emissions for traveling by road have been estimated using calculators from Planetair and ZéroCo2. At Université Laval, a standard amount based on a series of distance ranges is used. This approach makes it easier to manage the GHG offset program.

ScenarioAverage Km round tripEmissions in tons of CO2 eq.Cost
0 to 500 km5000,11,77$
501 to 1000 km7500,152,55$
1001 to 2000 km15000,35,10$
2001 km and more25000,58,50$

Travel by plane

Air travel emissions are estimated using a calculator developed by the International Civil Air Organization (ICAO). Calculations are made for each destination country, based on a round trip from the Quebec City airport to the country capital or city where the main airport is located. For the cost of offsetting, consult the GHG emission database (Excel, in French only) associated with major air destinations.


Ecoresponsible Events

To calculate GHG emissions associated with participants transportation during events, it is possible to use a calculator (Excel, in French only) to obtain a specific result or to use the simplified calculation method developed by the University from various samples..

Simplified calculation method: For each event on campus, the GHG offsetting per participant, not traveling by aircraft is estimated at $0.25. For example, if 50 people attend a launch Chair at the University, the offsetting would be $12.50.


Offsetting daily trips

Compensation for GHG emissions associated with daily trips (to and from campus) can be paid when purchasing the parking pass fromService de sécurité et de prévention. The calculation of the cost of compensation is based on the average emissions of a vehicle and assumptions about the distance traveled to the campus on a daily basis. The cost of the compensation is estimated at $17, which is equivalent to 5,000 km per year.


How the program works



Since its launch in February 2013, the voluntary offset program has offset over 3,009 tons of CO2 equivalent. Thank you to all those who have chosen to offset the greenhouse gas emissions associated with their travel and events.

Offsetted tons (CO2eq.)Number of trees plantedUL Offset project
2013-2014718.5910,779Secured area for bikes
2014-2015726.7610,901Mon arbre UL
2015-2016809.0712,136Internship program in sustainability
2016-2017755.0911,326Greening a parking lot

The program asseses that for each ton of GHG offset, 15 trees will be planted at the Montmorency Forest. Thus, annually, more than 10,500 trees are planted specifically through UL employee and students contributions. See the map of the Montmorency Forest for the areas where these trees were planted.

Université Laval wishes to increase the offsetting of scope 3 GHG emissions to 1,000 tons of CO2 equivalent per year.




Office of the Executive Vice Rector, Development
Pavillon des Sciences de l'éducation
2320, rue des Bibliothèques
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Université Laval
Québec City (Québec) G1V 0A6