Stoel Rives Lawyers Embrace Sustainability
Stoel Rives attorneys Bill Holmes and Eric Grasberger discussed in The Oregon State Bar Bulletin the significance of "sustainability" to their legal practice, and the firm's commitment to sustainable business practices. Under Oregon law, sustainability is defined as "using, developing, and protecting resources in a manner that enables people to meet current needs and provides that future generations can also meet future needs, from the joint perspective of environmental, economic and community objectives." Many of the state's business and political leaders anticipate that sustainability will form the bedrock of the region's developing creative economy, from renewable energy technology to green building design and construction to startup sustainable businesses.
Holmes, Chair of the Stoel Rives Energy & Telecommunications practice, said the firm began to integrate sustainability into its practice groups nearly two decades ago, beginning with geothermal energy, then carbon offsets. He noted that by making a commitment to sustainable business practice, the firm can better advise its clients on what works and what does not. "You get into a feedback loop. Your clients set an example for you, so you have to set an example for them. As we have grown, 60 percent of our energy load is now renewable through the purchase of green tags (renewable energy credits). When the firm commits to renewable energy, then you personally commit to it. It becomes viral and affects the way the firm operates its sustainability policy."
Grasberger, Chair of the Stoel Rives Construction & Design group and Co-Chair of the Stoel Rives Sustainable Real Estate Development Team, said sustainability issues are fully integrated into his practice. He estimated that 50 percent of his business involves high-performance buildings, also known as "LEED certified" and above. Grasberger described the development of these so-called "green buildings" as a win-win situation – and the kind of work that provides his own practice with greater meaning. In fact, he recently built a LEED-Gold certified personal residence for his family, an endeavor that gave him a particularly thorough education in the LEED process – knowledge which he now applies on behalf of his clients.
"Advancing the Economy: Oregon Lawyers Embrace Sustainability" was published by The Oregon State Bar Bulletin, October 2009.