City of Duluth

Strategic Planning & Energy Manager Services


The partnership between CR-BPS and the City of Duluth stands as one of CR-BPS' most significant partnerships, showcasing the invaluable role of our comprehensive Facility and Site Asset Management service. Having worked with the key stakeholders at the City of Duluth since 2013, we have been able to create a long-term, strategic partnership with them which has enabled us to develop a strategic, data-driven plan to alleviate both their immediate concerns as well as lay out a plan for their long-term, city-wide capital improvements.

To fully understand the scope of the situation, our team began by conducting a comprehensive assessment of both new and existing facilities, enabling us to gain profound insights into each project's scope. The insights from this comprehensive assessment guided our decisions regarding timing, budget, and implementation in the strategic improvement process.

Services Provided
Performance Architecture
Facility & Site Asset Management
Building Science
Client Quotes

I first became aware of CR-BPS’s Facilities and Site Asset Management through Nancy Schultz while at the county. When I came to the city (Duluth) we did not have an active asset assessment tool. Funding was stagnant and the city wasn’t keeping up with asset deterioration. We needed a tool to tell the story and CR-BPS’s process and expertise gave us the framework that we needed to build the case for more facility funding."

Erik Birkeland, Property & Facilities Manager, City of Duluth, MN


Upon our initial engagement with the key stakeholders at the City of Duluth, we encountered a set of intricate challenges that necessitated a thoughtful, detailed approach. Primarily, there were pressing budget concerns that required a comprehensive approach. Decision makers grappled with the imperative to convey the necessity of budget increases, essential for the maintenance and operation of Duluth’s valuable buildings and sites.

Their challenge extended beyond mere communication; they sought a nuanced understanding supported by robust analytics and metrics. Additionally, legal challenges loomed large, prompting decision makers and advisory groups to grapple with the legal risks associated with maintaining the status quo in budget allocations across various departments.

Lastly, a critical need emerged for the establishment of a systematic process for consistent communication with the public. This encompassed the formidable task of crafting a transparent mechanism to articulate the intricacies of building and site assessments, underscoring the complexity of the stakeholders’ multifaceted concerns, and tracking and documenting the overall energy use of all City facilities and establishing a way to implement energy conservation opportunities (ECO) in future decision making.

Client Quotes

As we expanded our city-wide Energy Management System we utilized CR-BPS staff as a very affordable extension of city staff to help build and manage the database that keeps track of over 4,000 meters. I would highly recommend CR-BPS. They are technically strong and good team members. They don’t dictate but listen. In this era of “scarcity budgets” they bring great value to the table, find the right price point and deliver a lot of value to us as clients."

Erik Birkeland, Property & Facilities Manager, City of Duluth, MN


We knew we needed to help the City of Duluth solve their capital improvement challenges by utilizing the specific services we knew would help solve their immediate concerns as well as achieve long-term, sustainable success.

Throughout our work with the City of Duluth, we utilized the implementation of the following key metrics that exemplify our whole system thinking facility assessments, which demonstrates our commitment to understanding how a building is performing. To accomplish this, we used the following six key criteria to assess the overall interdependent attributes impacting their building and sites.

  • Facility-Site Conditions
  • Sustainability
  • Facility-Site Functionality
  • Human Experience
  • Resiliency and Adaptation
  • Other Drivers

We started by meticulously gathering extensive information and performance data for all city facilities and sites, we provided the essential foundation of accurate data necessary for effective planning for the City of Duluth. We endeavored to establish ourselves as a respected member, contributing our expertise and fostering collaboration with the Property and Facilities Management team in their comprehensive efforts for city-wide facility asset management and capital planning. Additionally, we were specifically sought out to offer our Building Science proficiency, aiding the city in resolving performance issues associated with specific assets. Our alignment with the city’s philosophy underscores the belief that asset management and facility performance are ongoing processes rather than mere products. This shared perspective has been instrumental in maintaining our ongoing contracted work with the city, as we consistently strive to surpass project requirements and exceed the city’s expectations.


Client Quotes

As the new Facilities Manager I enlisted the services of CR-BPS to help implement an asset management system and process to better understand the breath of our assets and create a common institutional language to assist staff in having meaningful discussions about our systems, our assets, and how we maintain and fund capital improvements."

Erik Birkeland, Property & Facilities Manager, City of Duluth, MN


Our CR-BPS team has played a crucial role in resolving the challenges faced by the City of Duluth. The detailed data we have provided them has allowed them to develop a comprehensive evaluation approach for all their buildings and sites, enabling the creation of feasible and actionable capital improvement plans. Through our extensive efforts, we have assessed over 214 city facilities spanning 108 individual sites, totaling an estimated 6.3 million square feet.

With the reliable data that we were able to provide them with, the City of Duluth was able to use that information to help them confidently secure funding and support for necessary facility enhancements. This collaborative effort not only addressed short-term needs but also laid the groundwork for a strategic, long-term investment plan. Our dedication to gathering good data played a pivotal role in solving the challenges faced by the City of Duluth, ensuring the success and sustainability of its capital projects.

We also successfully helped address their concerns by implementing a comprehensive approach to tackle the challenges faced by the Facilities and Property Management Department in the City of Duluth. We began by engaging decision makers and advisory groups, emphasizing the necessity of budget increases to maintain and operate the city’s valuable buildings and sites. To overcome resistance, we focused on dismantling existing norms that hindered decision-making progress and pinpointed critical tipping points where delayed maintenance and building costs would exponentially escalate.

Furthermore, we were able to help them effectively communicate the legal risks associated with maintaining the status quo in budget allocations across departments. Prior to 2013, a lack of nationally accepted metrics led to unfair budget deals, but this changed with the introduction of the Facility Condition Index, a recognized standard for assessing building conditions. By adopting this index, we were able to help ensure transparency and fairness in

In response to the imperative for transparent public communication, we collaborated with the City of Duluth to establish an efficient system for conveying building and site assessments. Our efforts involved integrating key metrics of interdependent attributes into the process. We meticulously formulated comprehensive short and long-term plans that harmonized the distinct requirements of individual buildings and sites with the overarching system needs. This approach not only promoted transparency and comprehension but also bridged the divide between public expectations and the department’s initiatives.

Additionally, we established a rapid response system to promptly address public inquiries, especially during crises like the COVID pandemic, societal stressors, or environmental disasters. This proactive communication strategy enhanced public trust and confidence in the department’s capabilities.

Lastly, we were able to help the stakeholders in the City of Duluth adopt an ever-ready posture to seize funding opportunities from various sources and agencies as they became available. By staying vigilant and adaptable, we helped ensure that the department could capitalize on available resources for diverse purposes, enhancing the city’s overall infrastructure and resilience.

Through these initiatives, all stakeholders have effectively continued to improve on the challenges faced by the city and the Facilities and Property Management Department, ensuring the effective sustainable development and maintenance of Duluth’s essential assets.

Client Quotes

Each year we deliver a Capital Needs assessment to the Council. We needed real facility condition data to consistently tell the story and accurately predict the need in a way that demonstrates what impacts our City's year over year investments has on our facilities individually and in the aggregate. Regular conversations with CR-BPS are a valued part of our capital planning process. They bring to the table a wealth of knowledge, experience and technical solutions."

Erik Birkeland, Property & Facilities Manager, City of Duluth, MN

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