Eric Dominguez, VP, Facilities, Engineering & Sustainability
Please tell us your job responsibilities and day-to-day activities.
Primary duties include managing corporate facilities and oversight of the company’s maintenance management system; implementing energy efficiency and conservation projects across more than 55 million square feet of hotel, casino, restaurant and entertainment space; procuring natural gas and electricity in deregulated markets; managing enterprise utility spend exceeding $180M/yr, including budgeting and reporting; leading efforts related to sustainable operations and greenhouse gas emission reduction; and providing engineering support across the organization.
Tell us your biggest challenge in 2017 and how you are addressing it.
Managing energy efficiency improvements in an environment of diminishing returns is the biggest energy challenge faced in 2017. Over the years we’ve implemented a multitude of efficiency projects, so the proverbial “low hanging fruit” is hard to find. We’re now focused on more sophisticated strategies that leverage “big data” and control strategies to better optimize pumping and air delivery throughout our buildings. We’re also challenged with developing a long-term strategy that will significantly shrink our greenhouse gas emissions footprint to meet recently established “science-based” reduction goals. Efficiency alone won’t get us to where we need to be, so a lot of effort is going into developing a renewable energy strategy that will help us achieve our carbon reduction goals.
Is there a specific recent project or implementation you worked on at your company that you can share? Any tips you can share that would help colleagues at other companies who are contemplating similar projects?
We recently completed the first phase of an enterprise-wide T8 retrofit project where we converted all of our linear fluorescent T8 lamps to LED technology. The strategy is itself is pretty straight-forward, but managing it at scale with over half-a-million lamps replaced was a bit challenging. This is an easy efficiency upgrade that every company should make. We also recently completed a major water-side retro-commissioning project that resulted in converting our chilled water and condenser water systems to all variable control. This involved the addition of variable frequency drives, the upgrade of controls, and the implementation of advanced control strategies that minimize energy use and allow chilled water deliveries to ebb and flow with demand for cooling.
Please tell us what you see in the market in the next few years. What will be the biggest challenges the industry will face?
I see two fundamental challenges that organizations will face in the coming years. First, companies are going to need to step up and respond to climate change on their own as a policy shift is underway to remove any framework or regulatory construct that would guide efforts. I’m not sure why a return to the dark ages is favored by some when there is so much new technology that can not only convert energy in a very clean and efficient manner, but is also more exciting and fulfilling to work on from a professional perspective; but we’re seeing a shift as policies such as the Clean Power Plan are undone. Second, there seems to be a lot of interest in the energy and efficiency industries these days and a lot of new companies that want to claim an easy victory. Don’t be fooled. Its not easy to cut your energy bill in half. If it was, everyone would be doing it. Setting and achieving carbon reduction goals is not only good for the planet, but it will drive lower operating costs and higher enterprise valuations while providing a platform for employee and customer engagement. Getting there is not necessarily easy, but there are proven strategies and technologies that can be leveraged and with some commitment and realization that it will take a series of actions to move the needle (versus installing a magical box that will cut your energy bill in half developed using NASA technology and backed by Lloyds of London), the journey is well worth it.
Tell us about a favorite hobby, passion, or book you’ve read recently that has had an impact on you.
I took up tennis late in life and it’s currently my passion. Any time I can break away and get on the tennis court, I do. This time of the year, there’s nothing like a fall morning in Las Vegas with temperatures back into two digits, crisp desert air, Red Rock mountains in the background and being on a tennis court with friends smacking the ball. I just wish I could figure out how to apply Bernoulli’s Principle to keep the ball in more.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Energy managers have a tool set and skills that can help address some of our biggest environmental challenges. I don’t think we as an industry think about this enough and we should. The daily work we do, in aggregate, has an impact. We should try to keep this more top of mind as a motivator and should continue leveraging technology and learning’s to not only drive value for our organizations, but to help address some of the biggest challenges our planet is facing with regard to resources and climate.