by Neometro

Built to last: How the certified B Corp Neometro is redefining success in property development

Design, High Density Homes - by Open Journal

February 16th, 2022.

Since our beginning in 1985, Neometro has been involved in developing and supporting social and community initiatives. In keeping with our commitment to design culture, Neometro remains dedicated to the urban renewal of inner-urban Melbourne, as well as contributing to the global design dialogue through Open Journal. It was therefore a natural progression for Neometro to become one of Australia’s first certified B Corp brands, a movement we have remained a part of and something that informs the work we do everyday.

B Corp is a US-based, “triple bottom line” accreditation that assesses businesses against social, community, governance and environmental criteria. Other local and international B Corp’s include Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, Australian Ethical, Dumbo Feather, Small Giants, Pro Bono Australia, Keep Cup, The School of Life and Who Gives a Crap.

Neometro Director, James Tutton was a founding board member of B Corp Australia and New Zealand. Recently, he discussed why B Corp is so integral to business development, and why Neometro consistently adheres to the criteria needed to hold and retain the certification. 


For more than thirty years, Neometro has delivered beautiful, functional, and intentionally designed residential projects across Melbourne. The Certified B Corporation is dedicated to creating developments with people at the centre, with work spanning Fitzroy to South Yarra. With more people focused on where they live than ever before, we spoke to one of Neometro’s directors, James Tutton, to understand what a property developer can gain from being purpose-led.

Andrew Davies

Neometro certified in 2014, and at the time, B Corp had been around for less than a year in Australia. It was absolutely a movement on the fringe, a group of businesses trying to do things differently. There are now more than 4,400 B Corps globally and 350 in Australia and Aotearoa. What did you do differently in your business in 2014 that made you think ‘this is interesting and something I want to do’?

 James Tutton

There was a multitude of factors. One of them was my personal view that business could be used to have a positive impact, above and beyond the very old-fashioned notion that businesses just exist to make money.


Becoming a B Corp was, in a lot of ways, a formalisation of something which was very much in place at Neometro.


Right at that time, I was also starting Smiling Mind, a not-for-profit I co-founded. I’ve always held the view that if you’re fortunate enough through circumstance to be successful commercially, there’s really an obligation to contribute, whether that be financially, with time, or connectivity. Focusing on Smiling Mind had me thinking about how, within a for-profit business, we actually formalise our contribution by being part of a movement.

As a highly commercial business, we felt it was a way to show leadership in an industry that doesn’t have a reputation of acting in the interest of the greater good. It’s been really exciting to see other developers over the last few years become B Corps as well and embrace the process and values.


Andrew Davies

One of the phrases that we use in the B Lab world is the idea of balancing purpose and profit. It’s actually not one I like, because, to me, it connotes that there’s a trade-off. Sometimes, of course, there is, and you make business decisions that negatively impact the bottom line. The reality is that we’re seeing impact and purpose in business can drive profits.

 James Tutton

It does. There are definitely situations where there is a trade-off, but anecdotally, I’ll say 80% of the time, there isn’t a trade-off or it gets paid back later.


I look at Neometro and the way we consider decisions — which would fall into the bucket of ‘B Corp-esque’ decisions — and they’re often fantastic for our brand, fantastic for our relationship with buyers, fantastic for our relationships with people who are making town planning decisions, and therefore good for business.


Andrew Davies

Back in the early days of B Lab in Australia, you were on the board. You were both getting your business certified, but also making a different type of contribution to building the movement. With that unique perspective of being closely involved from the early days, how do you see the evolution of the B Corp movement in Australia in particular?

 James Tutton

I think the evolution has been and should be, around more commercially-orientated businesses becoming B Corps. I’ll use Milieu, another real estate developer with who we are close, as a prime example. I see their involvement as a really positive thing, as it shows B Corp as a place for highly commercial businesses. More generally, there has definitely been an evolution in terms of this pandemic and what people’s values are and what people want from their professional life, including flexibility and it being rewarding. I think these values have changed in a way that have brought them closer to the values of B Corp.

 Andrew Davies

We have definitely seen that through the pandemic. Back in March 2020, every accountant in the world was telling their clients to cut costs. We thought that because certification is an extra cost and resource commitment, it could be a real problem for us. But in fact, we’ve seen the opposite. The demand for growth over the past two years has been driven by exactly what you’re talking about.

You’ve just completed your third recertification as a B Corp at Neometro and it doesn’t necessarily get easier. It gets harder! So why go through it again? What else is going on that’s driving you to stay a B Corp?

 James Tutton

It’s important that until there’s broader social and cultural change around defining business success, companies like Neometro remain as B Corps. There’s a challenge around the thinking of B Corps entering the mainstream, but I think at times, there’s a real danger of a group of like-minded inner-city folk preaching to the converted. What I think we need to do is continue taking B Corp to the mainstream business community. You can sit here in Melbourne and think there’s a huge amount of change going on, but it’s not usually reflective of the thinking in Bundaberg or Rockhampton.

This article was first published on

Words by Andrew Davies

Photography by Derek Swalwell


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