This week, M. A. Mortenson Companies, Inc. signed a carbon credit pre-purchase agreement with Virridy Carbon LLC to enable project capital investment in programs in Rwanda, Kenya, and the United States. The deal will ensure the emissions avoidance of at least 50,000 tonnes CO2 equivalent, generated by either Virridy’s water security projects in eastern Africa or ‘watershed carbon’ river restoration projects in the United States. The Mortenson Center in Global Engineering and Resilience at the University of Colorado Boulder is also engaged in developing elements of these projects with support from the Autodesk Foundation.
In Rwanda Virridy deploys water treatment systems in schools, avoiding the demand for forest fuels to boil contaminated drinking water. This program will reach over 600,000 students by 2025 and is expected to avoid over 200,000 tonnes of carbon emissions by 2030. The Virridy leadership team innovated and demonstrated the first-ever carbon credit for drinking water treatment programs globally, starting in Rwanda in 2007.
In the United States, Virridy is innovating how to connect the global carbon credit market to regulated water treatment obligations. The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation is funding Virridy to develop a methodology earning carbon credits through installing green infrastructure, like riparian shade and improved agricultural practices, and thereby avoiding the construction and operation of gray infrastructure for water treatment.
American water treatment and transport accounts for over 4% of national electricity demand, a figure that is projected to rise dramatically as advanced treatment technologies are adopted in coming decades to comply with regulations and guard against risks of catastrophic wildfire and other pressures. Avoiding upgrades where possible by generating quantifiable watershed health improvements not only will reduce carbon emissions by avoiding energy use, but also create a host of co-benefits in as regional resiliency, biodiversity, employment, public health and recreation.
Globally, billions face water insecurity and water quality challenges. Water is an under-invested sector facing increasing pressure from climate change. Meanwhile, carbon credit markets provide incentives for nature-based climate solutions, but lack project diversity and quality.
At this intersection, Virridy brings “Freshwater Decarbonization With Data Science.” We use our proprietary technology and water and carbon markets expertise to restore watersheds and improve water quality, catalyzed and partially funded by generating and selling high quality carbon credits. Our team has developed large-scale drinking water programs in Rwanda and Kenya reaching over four million people; large-scale watershed restoration programs in the United States motivated by the Clean Water Act; and have patented and published our technology solutions linking in-situ sensor data with remote sensing and data science to deliver high quality spatial and temporal water resource predictions as the digital monitoring, reporting and verification audit trail for high quality freshwater decarbonization credits.
M. A. Mortenson Companies Inc. is the parent company of Mortenson Construction (“Mortenson”). Mortenson is a U.S.-based, top-25 developer, builder and engineering services provider serving the commercial, institutional, and energy sectors. Mortenson’s expanding portfolio of integrated services helps its customers move their strategies forward, ensuring their investments result in high-performing assets. The result is a turnkey partner, fully invested in its customers’ success and improving the communities in which they live and work.
The Mortenson Center in Global Engineering and Resilience at the University of Colorado Boulder combines education, research, and partnerships to positively impact vulnerable people and their environment by improving development tools, policy and practice. Their vision is a world where everyone has safe water, sanitation, energy, food, shelter, and infrastructure.