Oxygen House and law firm Michelmores, based in Exeter, have forged a new innovative partnership aimed at bringing sustainability to the fore in business.
Oxygen House invests in projects which foster social, environmental and economic prosperity. It places sustainability at the heart of its ethos and actively encourages its business partners to adopt this approach. Michelmores has signed-up to this initiative and been appointed to advise Oxygen House’s property division, Grenadier Estates, on all of its real estate and construction projects.
Matthew Gingell, General Counsel for Oxygen House said:
“The legal profession is in a unique position to influence the adoption of sustainability for the benefit of their clients and the wider community. Rather than simply acknowledging CSR programs, if our advisers and suppliers also commit to improving their own sustainability credentials and those of their clients and supply chains, together we can have a significant positive impact on our workplaces, towns, cities and regional business environments. I am delighted that Michelmores share this vision and we look forward to delivering lasting impact with them.”
Through the partnership, Michelmores and Oxygen House will demonstrate that low carbon or sustainable buildings and leases make commercial common sense – by future proofing the investments made by both landlords and tenants. Sitting at the core of Michelmores’ legal work will be a suite of flexible precedent leases, contracts and management rules which reflect a commitment to sustainability from project inception to occupation. In particular, they will encourage the adoption of energy efficient technologies and collation of energy data. An analytical approach and increased dialogue between developers and agents, contractors, planners and tenants relating to “green” issues will ensure that projects deliver environmental impact, without compromising financial returns or the availability of funding.
As part of the arrangement, Michelmores has also committed to contribute an agreed percentage of Oxygen House’s legal spend towards its own cycle of environmental and social improvements. Since the launch of the partnership, Michelmores has moved to a paperless billing system, implemented a zero to landfill policy, increased cycle storage for visitors and deployed a wider variety of recycling caddies. Oxygen House are supporting Michelmores to identify how it can further expand its environmental policy and build a sustainable workforce. The introduction of electric car or bicycle charging points, LED lighting, solar car ports, renewable energy modeling, commuting habits and staff engagement are all under discussion during 2017.
Jonathan Kitchin, Partner in Michelmores’ Business Group, will oversee the delivery of this unique solicitor / client relationship. It will see Oxygen House not only working with real estate and construction lawyers, but also collaborating with the firm’s finance, marketing and facilities teams. The commitments by both parties have been signed off at board level and are being described as “Triple Impact Procurement” – the delivery of sustainable projects, maximising the impact of supplier spend and influencing the marketplace. Oxygen House has already provided input into the judging criteria for the annual Michelmores Property Awards – to introduce sustainability and social impact criteria across all ten award categories – and will speak on issues of sustainability at Michelmores’ Property Developers Club.
Stephen Newson, Partner in Michelmores’ Real Estate team, recently acted for Oxygen House’s subsidiary Grenadier Estates on the acquisition and forward funding of Emperor House in Exeter Business Park. Stephen said:
“This transaction is a fantastic example of how Oxygen House’s commitment to sustainable development works in practice. We look forward to working closely with them, not only by providing strategic legal advice, but by demonstrating Michelmores’ own strong ethos of sustainability in business.”