Name: Eric Dominguez
Title: Corporate Director Engineering, Utilities & Environmental Affairs
Organization: Caesars Entertainment
Years at Caesars Entertainment: Eight
Primary responsibilities: Implementing energy efficiency and conservation projects across more than 50 million square feet of hotel, casino, restaurant and entertainment space; procuring natural gas and electricity in deregulated markets; managing enterprise utility spend exceeding $180 million a year, including budgeting and efficiency improvements; and ensuring environmental compliance associated with the Clean Air and Water Acts.
Organization’s most significant sustainability-related accomplishment so far, as it relates to energy conservation: “In the last year and a half we changed out 65,000 halogen MR16 lamps and switched to LEDs, saving 20 million kilowatt-hours a year,” Dominguez says. “The investment will have a two-year payback and will reduce our carbon footprint by 20,000 metric tons annually.”
Organization’s most significant sustainability-related challenge, as it relates to energy conservation: “Continuing to make progress after the low-hanging fruit has been addressed,” Dominguez says.
LAS VEGAS—When studying mechanical engineering at Cornell University, a school well known for its School of Hotel Administration, Eric Dominguez had no intention of entering the hospitality industry. In fact, he wanted to be an aerospace engineer. It was by accident, he says, that he ended up getting into the energy business after college. After accumulating years of diverse experience in that area in both the public and private sectors, it was by fate, Dominguez adds, that he made some connections with Caesars Entertainment. Today, after eight years with Caesars, Dominguez’s responsibilities encompass enterprise utility management, corporate engineering and environmental affairs.
Dominguez works at the corporate office of Caesars Entertainment, a 70,000-employee company that now has 52 properties worldwide. Some of those properties include Caesars Palace, Harrah’s, and Paris Las Vegas. Three energy engineers and one environmental engineer report to Dominguez.
“We manage utilities—on the supply side and demand side—buying natural gas and electricity, and manage the corporate budget in the area of energy efficiency,” Dominguez says.
Dominguez’s group is charged with identifying ways to reduce energy and water consumption and also addresses air quality emissions.
More Than $70 Million Invested
“One of the interesting things about hospitality is we operate in many cities,” Dominguez says. “There is always something new coming up. It’s challenging to provide the type of support we provide. We have a good track record. We have invested over $70 million in the last seven or eight years in efficiency—lighting, controls, and upgrades to heating and ventilation systems.”
Caesars has established aggressive goals to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions. The company is on track to achieve a 40 percent reduction in fossil fuel use per air-conditioned square foot by 2025 (baseline year 2007). The company is also on track to achieve a 40 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2025 (baseline year 2007).
“Forty percent is an ambitious goal,” Dominguez says. “We have been lucky that technology has continued to progress. In coming years we will transition completely to LEDs. We will see smarter technology. Lights themselves will be smart devices.”
Overall, through corporate-level investments in energy efficiency that began in 2003, Caesars has reduced the energy consumption of its operations by an estimated 163 million kilowatt-hours per year.
Focus on Efficiency First
“We have taken the approach that we want to invest where we will have the biggest impact first,” Dominguez says. “We have focused on efficiency first because that is where we get the biggest bang for our buck.”
One of the largest efficiency projects can be found at the Harrah’s Rincon Casino & Resort in Valley Center, Calif. There, a 1-megawatt solar plant provides enough power to run approximately 90 percent of the resort’s heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems. The plant reduces grid consumption, curtailing enough energy to power about 2,200 homes. The 3,936-panel solar field produces enough energy to offset almost a quarter of the casino’s total power consumption.
Another of the company’s most successful projects is a 5-megawatt cogeneration facility that was installed at the Rio Hotel. One of the cleanest natural gas-powered facilities in the United States, it generates electricity while also providing waste heat that is captured for water heating.
Cogeneration Considered for Other Markets
In the future, Dominguez says Caesars will invest in more renewable energy projects like that found at the Harrah’s Rincon Casino & Resort. “We are looking at cogen for a couple of other markets,” he says.
Like other companies in hospitality, Caesars tracks its utility data company-wide.
“We collect it on an independent platform,” Dominguez says. “We use that to report on our CodeGreen program. We developed our own internal scoreboard.” Dominguez adds that Caesars is currently working with an outside company to verify its carbon emissions numbers.
To ensure a high level of energy efficiency moving forward, Caesars has pledged to build to at least LEED standards for new construction.
In addition to having a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University, Dominguez has an MBA from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and is one of few civilians to have completed the U.S. Naval Nuclear Power School. He is a Certified Energy Manager by the Association of Energy Engineers, a U.S. Green Building Council LEED Accredited Professional, a member of U.S. Senator Reid’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Energy and Chairman of Governor Sandoval’s Workforce Investment Board Clean Energy Sector Council.
When asked what he enjoys most about his job, Dominguez says he loves the diversity of it.
“It is not often you can do the right things economically and socially as well,” he says. “Our CEO loves to call it a virtuous cycle.”
Go to Caesars Entertainment.
Glenn Hasek can be reached at email@example.com.