GreenerU announces owner’s project management service, augmenting its existing capabilities

Whether through turnkey energy solutions or owner’s project management, GreenerU’s eye for detail, customer-first service, and communication style keeps the trains running on time.


There’s a reason GreenerU’s Matt Karp has been nicknamed The Mayor.

Gliding down the halls of a client institution’s medical school campus, Matt passes by faculty members, custodians, contractors, delivery drivers, facilities personnel, and laboratory principal investigators. “Hey, Frank!” he grins. “Watch the game last night?” The Mayor knows everyone.

And after five years of energy-savings project management with this institution, it’s no wonder. GreenerU has performed more than $12 million of work here—from deep energy-reduction investigation to design and implementation, laboratory ventilation to LED lighting conversion to controls upgrades to HVAC redesign.

Undertakings of this magnitude require a project manager who can not only juggle a thousand logistical details, but develop the trusting relationships it takes to ensure that not only are the client institution’s needs met, but building occupants are informed, subcontractors do excellent work, and the project is completed on time and within budget. Keeping the proverbial trains running on time is the role of the owner’s project manager—or what GreenerU would consider just another day’s work.

Because when it comes to ambitious institutional undertakings, such as carbon neutrality and climate action planning, you need both the big-picture perspective of a planner who can pull together the many facets of institutional goals and objectives combined with a details-driven implementer. This is what GreenerU does well.

Owner’s project management vs. turnkey energy solutions

What is the difference between owners project management and the type of work GreenerU has performed in the past, commonly known as turnkey project management services?

Owners project managers (OPMs) assist with overall project planning, coordination and project oversight beyond what is typically performed by the owners’ design professionals, serve as a liaison between the client and project team, and, most importantly, establish and maintain clear and open lines of communication to help the project be implemented smoothly.

The truth is this work is very close to GreenerU’s turnkey services, project management capabilities, change management consulting, and carbon neutrality planning services, as we’ve performed with clients such as Brown University, Brandeis University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and many others. The main difference is GreenerU’s role in engineering the initial design and seeing that design through to the end of the project.

With turnkey energy solutions, GreenerU assumes all legal and financial burdens and liabilities for the project all the way through; with OPM, GreenerU deploys its same project management capabilities for a lower cost to the institution, which contracts directly with contractors performing the work.

With either approach, services GreenerU provides include multiple phases:

  • Pre-planning and planning, including designing the planning process, carbon accounting, and making hiring recommendations
  • Feasibility and engineering, including general program development, energy-efficiency engineering assessments, and contracting/subcontracting procurement
  • Strategic procurement
  • Construction management
  • Post-construction monitoring, quality control, and following up on warranty work
  • Ongoing communications and facilitation
Managing a zillion details

“As I have come to learn and often impart to our subcontractors during projects, the devil is in the details,” says Matt. “But I have added to the cliché through my years: only for those which are overlooked.” And the details are many.

Take procurement, for example. With certain vendors, material turnaround is quick and predictable. But often, equipment needs to be custom-built for a project: the details need to be specified and confirmed, a production slot reserved. Larger orders may rely on a chain of “partners,” with material sourced from national and international suppliers. When any of a number of factors delay that supply chain, the project can be held up indefinitely. GreenerU has great experience managing these types of supply and delivery issues and knows how to plan around them (including adjusting for sometimes optimistic assessments of delivery dates from eager vendors).

Parts are also a mountainous challenge. A large-scale LED lighting project on a college campus can mean upwards of 10,000 individual components that must be delivered, sorted, stored, staged, and ultimately installed. But accessible storage space is not always available on campus. Sometimes project managers rely on storage containers that are potentially miles away. With so many parts, any given project can be a gigantic logistical challenge ensuring that the parts are locatable, correct, and accessible for installation at the right time.

GreenerU as OPM

One example of a situation where GreenerU served as owner’s project manager was with Swarthmore College.

Located just outside of Philadelphia, Swarthmore had made a first attempt at an energy master plan, but the initial plan did not meet the College’s needs. Reasons for this became clear upon delivery of the final plan: the process wasn’t designed to have deliberate engagement from campus stakeholders; the College didn’t have the bandwidth to drive the process the way they wanted to; and the lack of client engagement resulted in a plan that did not have the confidence of key stakeholders.

Thus, Swarthmore was at a crossroads. Moving forward with the energy master plan as written was not viable. They could attempt to salvage what aspects of the plan they could move forward with, or they could start from scratch. They opted for the latter.

In 2018, Swarthmore hired a new engineering firm, Integral Group, along with GreenerU as owner’s project manager, to develop a new energy master plan. With a combination of in-house expertise in engineering, project management, and meeting facilitation, GreenerU created a platform to ensure deliberate engagement and a clear and organized structure. This platform was used to ensure that Swarthmore could be fully informed and involved in the decision-making stages throughout the entirety of Integral Group’s findings. All final recommendations were developed with the involvement of key campus stakeholders.

The results: a happy customer

“At the outset of our planning process I was somewhat skeptical of the need for an outside project manager,” says Andy Feick, Associate Vice President of Sustainable Facilities Operations and Capital Planning at Swarthmore.

Without GreenerU’s help, Feick says, Swarthmore’s aggressive schedule might have derailed the school’s second attempt at energy master planning.

“GreenerU helped us drive this project far more effectively than we would have been able to do with our own staff,” says Feick. “Their disciplined approach to meetings and meeting preparation enabled my team to focus more effectively on the content of the plan and engendered confidence that the final product would reflect our input.

“We got far more done and ended up with a better plan than we would have without GreenerU.”

Contact us today to discuss how GreenerU can help you deliver complex energy-related projects smoothly at your institution.

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