Dean Newins: Championing Sustainability & Leading Design


Our integrated, one-team approach brings great value to clients. It also enables us to put up truly exceptional buildings. We've always wanted to do more than that though. We want to make life better for the people that live, work and play in those buildings.

“From the beginning of our organization, stewardship has been one of our core values," said Dean Newins, Senior Vice President of Architecture. “It's a broad term with many tentacles. We approach it holistically – by giving generously to support our communities and improving the environments around them."

Dean leads our architectural design, interior design and graphics and visualization associates​ across the country and provides expertise and design solutions for prospects and clients during the early stages of projects.

He also leads our sustainability efforts.

“I first became passionate about sustainability around 20 years ago when our clients started requesting USGBC LEED Certification for their projects," Dean said. “So, in addition to being the right thing to do, LEED certification was prescribed in the work we were doing. I was responsible for it, so I learned it. And it struck a chord with me."

Discovering His Lifework

"My dad was a builder and constructed custom homes in the early 1960s," Dean said. “As a kid, I was around all the time and learned from watching him. I grew up in a house he built."

Dean's career journey started as a young man working for a design-builder while putting himself through college at the New York Institute of Technology, where he achieved a Bachelor of Architecture. After graduating and working for one of his college professors for a short time, he moved to California and started his own architectural firm at 28 years old.

“Being in California where the economic highs are really high and the lows are really low, I had my practice for about five years, and then folded that practice into a firm that focused on government and K – 12 school work. This work was design, bid, build with the construction awarded to the lowest bidder. Very different than the Opus design-build model."

A few years later in 1996, Dean's wife Mary was transferred to Minneapolis for her job. That's when he was introduced to Opus.

“I was hired for project architecture work on the technical side of the business," he said. “I think everyone, including me, realized I was really bad at that. So, I switched pretty quickly to the design side. It was wonderful. They aligned my strengths with their needs."

"I had the great fortune to work on many project types around the country including projects that had a sustainable focus. These projects helped shape Opus' sustainable program."

Dean's early time with Opus took him back to the East Coast. When Opus reorganized in 2009, he became a partner in an interior architecture firm in Washington, D.C. This firm had collaborated with Opus on some projects on the East Coast.

"It was a very good experience, and it helped round my design and client relationship skills," Dean said. "I learned a great deal in my time there."

“Then Opus called me in 2012 and said 'we are putting the band back together – do you want to come back?' I was ecstatic."

Dean rejoined Opus as Vice President of Architecture and has since been promoted to Senior Vice President of Architecture.

“It's like this job was built for me," he said. “When I came back, I had run two firms – and worked through tough economic times. I had experienced the kind of cutthroat, 'got to make it happen or you might not get paid next month' scenarios that make a person resilient and more astute. That's what I brought back to Opus."

Dean has been with Opus for almost 22 years total now.

Champion of Sustainability

Our portfolio includes 17.2 million square feet of green projects, including more than 50 LEED-certified buildings. Dean has contributed to those results, and his leadership is integral to our sustainability strategy.

“Dean's passion for sustainable design led him to become the Executive Sponsor of our GREENteam, the group responsible for our sustainability platform," said Dean's manager, Ed Gschneidner, President. “They have adopted a longer-term view of how our actions affect future generations and can improve every dimension of how our business operates."

“Opus has executed an impressive number of sustainable projects. But building LEED-certified buildings is just one area of opportunity. We are expanding our focus to include a more holistic approach to sustainability," Dean said.

With representatives from every area of the business, the GREENteam implements sustainable practices across our business and delivery method. They engage and inspire fellow associates and clients, advancing technical expertise and sustainability best practices, acting responsibly towards the environment and creating superior value in our buildings.

“The GREENteam is shaping what Opus sustainability looks like," said Dean. “We are asking questions like: When not certifying a project, how are we elevating and taking our sustainable practices to the next level? What additional practices can we employ on every project, regardless of whether or not a client is requesting it?"

The team works within five branches of sustainability: develop, design, build, education and wellness and operations. In addition to LEED projects, they are driving WELL and Fitwel initiatives in our various office environments and on our projects.

“Dean and I have worked together at Opus for nearly 25 years," said Ed. “As our chief leader for design, Dean touches nearly every Opus project during the early stages of development and governmental planning approvals. That's when the most beneficial sustainable design decisions are made – decisions that ultimately determine the project's impact on the environment. That positions Dean in the most advantageous place to influence the sustainability of all our projects."

“In addition to leading our sustainability efforts, the most rewarding part of my vocation at Opus is providing leadership to our team," Dean said. “It's a great honor to be able to do for others what has been done for me."


Dean is a member of the American Institute of Architects and the Minnesota Society of the American Institute of Architects. He is a USGBC LEED Accredited Professional and has NCARB certification.


Our associates are talented, dedicated and knowledgeable. They streamline complex projects and always deliver value to clients. Read more profiles of our team.