Richard Manser: Delivering Environmental Certainty of Outcome for Stakeholders

“Our in-house expertise gives us a competitive advantage on complicated brownfield sites,” said Richard Manser, Director of Environmental Risk​. “When combined with our established network of environmental consultants, attorneys and insurance brokers, we are able to drive the environmental due diligence process and tailor creative solutions that meet our business needs.”

At Opus, we have sophisticated, in-house environmental professionals who truly understand our business goals and objectives. Those professionals include Richard and John Kinny, Manager of Environmental Risk.

Our environmental team is engaged throughout the life cycle of a project, working closely with our development, design and construction teams to ensure a positive outcome. “This integrated approach is a game-changer – it creates synergy, allowing us to leverage our strengths,” Richard said. “It’s much more efficient than other project team I've been on, where it’s normal to wait weeks for multiple people from various organizations to make decisions.”

Three Decades of Deep Experience

Richard joined Opus in 2017 as Manager of Environmental Risk and was promoted to his current role in January 2021. Throughout his more than 30-year career, Richard’s primary focus has been environment characterization and remediation. Before Opus, Richard worked for several large and small environmental consulting firms, including Geomatrix Consultants and MACTEC Engineering and Consulting in the San Francisco Bay area; and Barr Engineering, ARCADIS and milepost12 (his own consulting firm) in Minnesota.

“Along with his extensive environmental consulting experience, Richard brings tremendous enthusiasm to his new position as the environmental risk team leader,” said Richard’s Manager, Tom Hoben, Vice President & Genera​l Counsel​. “He is extremely responsive, with a positive and collaborative approach. We all look forward to working with Richard in this new role.”

Inspired by Nature and Architecture

Richard grew up in Wisconsin and spent a lot of time outdoors – hiking, biking, canoeing, fishing, hunting, skiing, and camping. At a young age, he was drawn to the natural environment.

He was also drawn to the built environment.

“I had a grandfather who couldn’t stop building houses,” he said. “On the block where they lived, he built five of the houses. He'd build a house and move into it, and then he'd buy the lot across the street, build a house and move into that one. He also helped build many other houses for his friends and family members. He got me involved as a youngster and I helped with a lot of those projects. I was his shadow – and that sparked my interest in architecture.”

After high school, Richard started college with a plan to be an architect. But he was diverted by his interest in the natural sciences and got a Bachelor of Science in Geology at the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh followed by a Master of Science in Hydrogeology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

“My career sort of ended up going full circle,” he said. “I was first interested in architecture and then environmental sciences. Fast forward to today, and I'm managing environmental science for a firm that designs and constructs buildings!”

Mitigating Risk and Making Way for Progressive Development

“The most rewarding part of my job is cleaning up vacant properties and abandoned industrial sites, so they can be developed into vibrant projects and buildings that serve the community and support the local tax base,” Richard said.

A good example is Arbor Lakes Corporate Center in Maple Grove, Minn.​, an industrial project that was built on a former landfill. Decades ago, the 13-acre site was a sand and gravel quarry that eventually became a municipal landfill. And over the years, the community developed around the landfill.

“The city wanted to remove the landfill and put the land back into productive use,” said Richard. “It was an extremely challenging site, but our team developed a comprehensive and cost-effective plan to remediate the contamination and mitigate the environmental risks.”

A key component of this plan was the brownfield remediation grants from Hennepin County, the Metropolitan Council and the State of Minnesota, which offset a significant portion of the environmental cleanup costs.”

It was not without surprises.

“During remediation, we discovered an unknown and unexpected contaminant at the bottom of the landfill – a gooey, tarlike substance,” Richard said. “While this caused some delay, we immediately went to work with our consultants to develop a creative, cost-effective solution to remediate this substance, which allowed the project to continue moving forward.

The final result was a brand new 204,120-square-foot industrial building that was fully leased shortly after completion.


Richard is an active member of Minnesota Brownfields, a nonprofit that promotes the reuse of brownfield sites. For six years he has been a member of the City of Edina Energy and Environment Commission, advising the mayor and city council on environmental matters.


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