Planting 30,000 trees this spring and summer to offset two years of Dawson’s carbon footprint


The Board of Governors of Dawson College made the bold commitment to be Carbon Neutral Forever in October 2018. Now, that promise is being implemented with the planting of 30,000 trees this spring and summer.

“Many of these trees, already growing in nurseries, will offset Dawson’s carbon footprint for the years of 2017-2018 and 2018-2019,” said Chris Adam of Dawson’s Sustainability Office. “There is a process to determine the carbon footprint for the year and then a budget cycle to work within. We are now well set-up to maintain our carbon neutrality through a current partnership with reforestation not-for-profit Taking Root.”

Consistently Carbon Neutral since 2017-2018


Since pledging to be Carbon Neutral Forever, Dawson is consistently carbon neutral for every year beginning in 2017-2018. Previously, Dawson College managed to offset carbon emissions in pilot projects for the years 2011-2012 and 2014-2015. The year in progress, 2019-2020, is scheduled to be offset by September 2021.

Dawson’s average greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are 2,647 metric tonnes (mt) for the last two years, including student and staff communtiung. Half of the trees will be planted on marginal land in Nicaragua through Taking Root.

17 football fields of trees

“These trees represent 100 native species,” Chris said. “As the trees grow, they will absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and increase biodiversity. This project will reforest approximately nine hectares of land, an area equivalent to 17 football fields. Our investment will also directly support four farmers by increasing their income and building sustainable livelihoods. We are currently deciding on the placement of the other 15,000 trees.”

Dawson College produces emissions from energy use, waste going to landfill and travel. Employee and student transportation to and from the College, as well as College-related travel, account for 75% of the CO2(e). Even though the majority of students take public transport to school, student commuting accounted for 140,000 km of travel per day.

Working to reduce emissions

“We continue to try to reduce our emissions by composting one tonne of material per week, collected in the 99 composting stations within the College,” said Chris. “We are also promoting alternative transportation (Bixi bike discounts) and replacing old equipment with energy-saving models.”

Dawson offsets the total GHG emissions by purchasing carbon credits from Taking Root, founded in 2007 by Dawson North-South graduate Khalil Baker.

Setting the standard

“Dawson College’s bold commitment to socially responsible carbon neutrality forever is inspiring and sets the standard for others to follow,” Khalil said.

Taking Root is an internationally acclaimed reforestation not-for-profit. Alongside growing forests with communities, they are a leader in forest monitoring and reporting and will share their award-winning methods with Dawson students and employees.

Tracking impacts straight from the farms

Using Taking Root’s proprietary software platform, Farm-Trace, Dawson College will be able to track its impacts with unparalleled transparency into the carbon stored on each farm growing the trees, forest cover, farmer profiles and farmer activities. The platform works by using mobile, satellite and machine learning data to map and provide impact reporting across each farm.

Environmentally responsible for Mother Earth

At the time of the Board’s commitment to carbon neutrality, board member Alex M. McComber, who represents the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory, shared the following statement: “Dawson and Taking Root sets the bar for post-secondary institutions to be environmentally responsible role models for Mother Earth and for their students.”

Matthew Chapman, National Campaign Coordinator of The Climate Reality Project Canada, also congratulated Dawson on being Carbon Neutral Forever: “My sincere congratulations to the visionary staff and students of Dawson College on this historic achievement. Once again, Dawson blazes a trail for other Canadian educational institutions to follow.”

Core value at Dawson

For Dawson’s Director General Richard Filion, being Carbon Neutral Forever is a way to live a core value of Dawson: “Dawson’s commitment to helping solve environmental and societal issues is a core value of this College: well-being for all, sustainably. I am proud to represent a community of positive action that simultaneously cultivates hope for the generation we serve.”


There is a 14-minute CBC Mini-Doc video featuring Dawson’s Khalil Baker at:

Last Modified: April 20, 2020