Smart Energy Voices- Episode 85

Smart Energy Voices- Episode 85

University of New Mexico's Unique Energy Solution

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In this episode of Smart Energy Voices, host Debra Chanil talks with Matthew Cherrin, Vice President of Lobo Energy Incorporated, a company owned by the University of New Mexico. Matthew explains this innovative business model and the university’s $140 million conservation story.


You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in...

  • Matt’s role at Lobo Energy [01:44]
  • Seeing measurable results [05:34]
  • Community buy-in [10:12]
  • Telling the story of sustainability [14:45]
  • Essential partners of the programs [19:34]
  • Creating a sustainable energy plan [25:17]


Sustainable energy on campus

Lobo Energy is a 501(c)(3) owned by the Board of Regents of the University of New Mexico and falls under the University Research Park Economic Development Act. This legislation has allowed the university to have a district energy plant on its main campus. The plant creates chilled water, electricity, and steam that it sends to the buildings on the main campus.

Lobo Energy has different procurement options than the university, allowing the company to make decisions and receive approval much more quickly than through a normal procurement process.

Monitoring success

After Lobo Energy and the University of New Mexico invested in the infrastructure of its district energy system, they also installed smart metering. Every building has submeters providing data that Lobo Energy uses to measure success. Many people working at Lobo Energy have been there for nearly 15 years, so they understand where zero to low-cost energy conservation measures are possible and where upgrades need to happen.

Because of its monitoring, Lobo Energy is the eyes and ears of the university's energy efficiency. The company uses the data to perform an audit and then communicates that effort to the right personnel, whether maintenance or engineers. The engineers, facility management, and planning department can then spend their time on bigger upgrades while Lobo Energy takes care of the smaller details.

Communication and community buy-in

An important factor in Lobo Energy's success is community buy-in. The university would not have seen some of its accomplishments so quickly without the people in the buildings communicating and supporting their efforts. At first, people were uncomfortable with the company seemingly trying to "turn the lights off." As more savings have been reported, they have been able to see the positive impact of these changes. 

Connect with Matt Cherrin

Matthew Cherrin is Vice President of Lobo Energy, Incorporated, which is a University of New Mexico-owned non-profit company. He has been part of a team that has helped UNM achieve over $140 million in cost avoidance and 26 percent energy reduction since 2008. Matthew holds an undergraduate degree in Communications and Journalism with a minor in Business and a master’s degree in Business Administration. He has a wife and two children, ages 4 and 1.

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