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About Us


 

Christopher F. Benson

Associate Director, Sustainability and Energy

With a uniquely-broad blend of experience in business management and engineering, Chris has been able to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption across 58 million square feet of buildings while saving millions of dollars in operational costs per year. Since the beginning of 2017, Chris has been managing the University of Utah’s Facilities Sustainability & Energy (S&E) division.

Chris has a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the David Eccles School of Business and a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Utah. He is a licensed engineer (PE), certified energy manager (CEM), LEED accredited professional (LEED AP), and Lean Six Sigma Green Belt (LSSGB).

He is particularly driven by the powerful win-win of energy efficiency as it drives down operational costs while improving local air quality and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Lissa Larson

Senior Project Engineer

In her role as Senior Project Engineer, Lissa brings together stakeholders to identify and prioritize campus-scale opportunities for carbon reduction. She develops the high-ranking projects to a shovel-ready state and provides technical support to those projects throughout their life cycle.

Lissa has a degree in Civil Engineering from Rice University in Houston, Texas. Lissa's professional experience spans design, construction, and project management for various utilities. She has worked as an engineering consultant for municipal wastewater treatment in the Washington DC area and in compressor station design for midstream natural gas based out of Houston. Lissa has also served as a field engineer on-site in Danville, Kentucky and enjoys seeing construction bring ideas to life.

Lissa is passionate about working with other people to make the world a better place. She enjoys learning languages (working on Swedish now!) and discussing sustainability and social issues.

Phil Banza

Integration Engineer

Phil is responsible for making sure that all University buildings are metered correctly and all communication and acquisition devices are properly connected. He ensures meter data is being collected and accuracy has been verified.

Following an education in Industrial Electricity, Phil graduated from the University of Utah with a B.S in Electrical Engineering, including a focus in Power. After working for the power company, as a Meter Engineer, Phil joined the University of Utah Facilities Management in 2015. He is fluent in French, Lingala and Tshiluba.

He has been interested in studying electricity since, a young boy, growing up in Kinshasa. Phil’s greatest passion is football (the real football… soccer). Although he doesn’t play as much as he used to, he spends most of his weekends taking his three boys their games.

Geri Tower

Sustainability Analyst

Geri delivers reports on University of Utah sustainability and energy performance to building managers and their teams across campus, publicizes S&E successes and lessons learned, and is the steward of performance data.

Geri holds an Associate’s degree in Energy Management from Salt Lake Community College. She first joined the University in 2015.

She is proud to be a contributing member of the Sustainability and Energy team that is doing such important work on campus, and is particularly motivated by the need to make a difference on the environment.

Pete Treanor

Field Technician

Pete is responsible for the collection of the field meter reads, data entry and verifying of assets. Validates data accuracy, commissioning & energy auditing, lighting auditing for existing building/systems.

Currently enrolled at SLCC in energy management /accounting and lighting

Proud to be a part of the sustainability & energy team.

Joan Scholz

Data Architect

Joan has a mixed background, combining electronic projects for an electrical metering company, business management, and as a system engineer for a semiconductor company. Joan recently graduated with a Masters of Science of Information Systems from the University of Utah, which with his Electronic Engineering Bachelor's degree, makes him an excellent fit for the Facility Management team.

Joan is working on building a new system for the team, including the backend (database) and the frontend (application - user interface). This new system will supply the department with reliable and updated information, providing countless possibilities for data analysis expanding improvements and insights about university utilities.

Joan is passionate about technology and innovations, bringing new ideas and creative solutions to projects.

 

 

Sean Nielson

Senior Energy engineer

Sean is strengthening the teams’ engineering support, including responsibilities with the development of new improvement projects, HVAC guidelines, and the evaluation of technology changes essential to reach the University’s commitment to carbon neutrality.

Sean is passionate about improving the lives of others in current and future generations through sustainable practices. He is excited to help the University of Utah become a carbon-neutral university and improve the air quality in the greater Salt Lake area. He has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Kansas State University and over 10 years of experience working in a variety of technical roles. Sean is a licensed Professional Engineer (PE) and LEED accredited professional (LEED AP BD+C).

Sean enjoys baking and cooking in his free time. Sean claims to bake a fantastic beet chocolate cake with a whipped cream cheese frosting and cherry topping, and hopefully he will be sharing his talents soon.

What We Do


 


Energy

Promote maximum energy-efficiency at the U and reduce energy costs, using utility procurement, incentives, and rebates.

 


Water

Support efforts to reduce water consumption in buildings and in campus landscaping.

 


other utilities

Use role as utility billing  partner to identify other improvements in utility usage, such as electricity, natural gas, water, process water, sewer, and stormwater/street.

 

WHY WE DO IT


 

 


carbon neutrality

Work towards Carbon Neutrality by 2050 for the University of Utah.

 


wellness

Better local wellness with improved air quality for Utahns. Promote wellness and productivity for building occupants by improving lighting and ventilation.

 


Financial Vitality

Improve operational costs, productivity, asset lifecycle costs, and maintenance costs. Reduces equipment and material purchasing.

Our Services


Planning

The Sustainability & Energy group supports Strategic Plans and Policy to ensure we are working strategically towards electrification and carbon neutrality.

This includes the following initiatives:

  • Maintain and continuously improve the University’s Energy Management Plan with focus on reduction of consumption and costs for all University facilities
  • Analyze systems upgrades to identify economic impact of future conversions, end-of-life replacement, etc.
  • Lead working group process to identify and prioritize projects that support campus’ sustainable operations through the SEED2SOIL program

Design & Construction

The Sustainability & Energy group supports projects during Design & Construction to ensure we are maximizing incentives, developing standards, and can take advantage reduced costs due to scale.

This includes the following initiatives:

Administration of Utility Incentives

  • Customized incentives review for Programs and Projects to identify potential rebate opportunities
  • Serve as point of contact with incentive agents on new construction and major renovation projects on campus
  • Provide documentation as requested, schedule site-visits with agents as necessary, and serve as liaison between the University project manager, architects, contractor, and the utility

Subject-Matter Tech Support

  • Advise on system selection and standards compliance for Metering, Mechanical Engineering (building controls), Electrical Engineering (lighting), and Energy
  • Support selection of systems, including analysis, review, and recommendations for design and planning
  • Review and analyze Commissioning and Recommissioning reports, test and balance reports, and Measuring & Verification (M&V) information to identify energy issues
  • Collaborate with Campus Design and Construction to assure facility and construction adheres to University and State of Utah standards

Sustainability Standards Management

  • Support development of designs, standards, and guidance developments – such as controls standards and taxonomies; energy/metering requirements.

 

 

Energy Conservation & Building Performance

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Energy Use Intensity

sustainability office dashboards

 

Operations and Maintenance

The Sustainability & Energy group supports projects during Operations & Maintenance to ensure we are supporting ongoing metering; developing benchmark reports; and using targeted analytics to proactively identify issues and opportunity for savings.

This includes the following initiatives:

Benchmark Reports and Other Support Tools

  • Report and make recommendations energy use indexes for all campus assets.
  • Perform comparative energy use analysis between University assets and those of other academic institutions of similar type.

Monitoring-Based Commissioning

  • Identifies opportunities for reducing energy consumption based on cost/benefit analysis.
  • Manage building energy audits to identify potential cost saving project initiatives.

Prescriptive Projects, Equipment, and Supplies

  • Identify and re-prioritize opportunities in scalable and organized manner. Utilize real economic tools (SIR, net present value) that can support decision making by appropriate audiences. Maximize progress by segregating financial needs by available revenue streams. Re-use and refine project content by theme (ex: organization by system-based measures to support standard design and refinement)
  • Developing a project scope and working to find the right solutions for implementation.

 

Energy Use Improvements

sustainability office dashboard

 

General University

The Sustainability & Energy group supports projects for the General University to ensure we are looking at the University utility contracts, bills, and savings from a big picture, University-wide perspective.

This includes the following initiatives:

Utility Procurement and Contract Management

  • Report and make recommendations regarding the University’s utility costs/variances, procurement, rate structures.

Utility Bill Management and Cost Recovery

  • Annual billing rate updates, including rate definition and summary of calculations.

Savings Projections and Verification

  • Monitoring and reporting outcomes
  • Ensure projects with energy debt have M&V/metering plans complete before project start

 

 

Electricity by Source

sustainability office dashboards

Recognition For the University's Geothermal Power Purchase

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Bill Rates

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Community 

The Sustainability & Energy group supports projects for our Community to ensure we are communicating progress, sharing lessons learned, and engaging stakeholders.

This includes the following initiatives:

Publication

  • Promote awareness and share successes and lessons learned with the wider community.

Community Engagement

  • Establish goals and plans for facility and utility impacts.
  • Provide leadership and technical support in the analysis, development, and implementation of programs including energy efficiency, water efficiency, carbon reductions, air quality, other sustainable areas impacted by facility operations
  • Staff advisor and mentor for student funded SCIF (Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund) projects

 

Programs and Initiatives


 

Better Buildings Challenge


The University of Utah has exceeded its goal of reducing energy by 20% by 2020 as part of the United States Department of Energy's "Better Buildings Challenge." Learn more about how we achieved this goal and the impact of the savings.

2 Degrees of Change


Adjust your thermostat setpoint by 2° (up in the summer and down in the winter) and save energy. This directly impacts greenhouse gas emissions, local air quality and utility costs. Not only will you be saving energy - you'll be positively impacting the health of those around you.

SEED2SOIL


The SEED2SOIL program will bring together experts and stakeholders along with operational sustainability topics to expand, prioritize, and refine known opportunities for carbon reduction.

 

 

Looking for information on Recycling and Waste Management?

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Last Updated: 6/16/22