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Dalene Aims to ‘Decarbonize the World’

Thu, 03/30/2023 - 11:56

An East Hampton builder has published a book that advocates for the adoption of a mechanism that he says will harness the free market to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, empowering consumers to choose climate-friendly products in the process.

In “Decarbonize the World: Solving the Climate Crisis While Increasing Profits in Your Business,” Frank Dalene, co-founder of Telemark Inc. and a former chairman of the town’s energy and sustainability advisory committee, proposes adoption of ICEMAN, or International Carbon Equivalent Mechanism Attributed to Neutrality. ICEMAN, he writes, “is a methodology that applies well-accepted sciences developed for the calculation of greenhouse gas emissions to provide a quantitative measure of factors that reduce or mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.”

Current policies and practices are insufficient to bend the emissions curve downward, Mr. Dalene said. “We have to act locally,” he writes. “Change occurs at the grassroots level. When we take personal responsibility for our carbon emissions, it’s infectious, and it can become viral in its own right. Consumers can change the world, influencing corporate decisions and behavior and thus making an impact on the global economic structure.”

ICEMAN, he said last week, “measures the carbon footprint of all manufactured products going down the supply chain,” including a product’s natural resources and components. “To calculate that, it uses normal cost accounting systems that manufacturers have — each has their own.”

“We’re not trying to reinvent something,” he said. “We’re applying climate change science to the measurement of the CO2 footprint in manufactured products. I take that and, to turn it into an objective, easy-to-understand indexing system, mathematically convert it to this index.”

That index, he proposes, could be listed on a product’s packaging. It would identify the carbon footprint of the product itself as well as “the complete carbon footprint of the manufacturer,” he writes, “including the overall embodied carbon footprint of the component and materials used in the product, all the way down the supply chain to when the raw material was taken out of the ground.”

In a 1-to-100 indexing system, an index of 50 indicates a product and its production is 50-percent carbon neutral, while an index of 100 indicates no adverse environmental impact. Armed with that knowledge, he said, consumers will naturally choose environmentally-friendly products, encouraging manufacturers across all sectors to strive for a higher ICEMAN index for their products in order to remain competitive. ICEMAN’s adoption, he writes, “will support and drive the whole movement of building renewable energy into our infrastructure.”

He speaks from experience. Born in Norway, “the culture we grew up with has a sense of responsibility and good stewardship for the environment,” he said. He founded the Hamptons Green Alliance, an association of design professionals, builders, manufacturers, suppliers, and related building and maintenance professionals. Its first project, the HGA House in Water Mill, was completely carbon-neutral. The rigorous effort to measure its carbon footprint, he said, led to development of ICEMAN. 

When ICEMAN is explained to them, legislators on both sides of the aisle are enthusiastic, Mr. Dalene said. Until now, however, “there wasn’t the groundswell from the grassroots needed to get the government to respond,” he writes. “Now, we have reached a tipping point. The moment has come when there is enough of a groundswell of support for saving the environment that legislative action can be taken.”

“In the book, I try to bring people together,” he said. “The cause of climate change has polarized people, it has become partisan. I’m trying to do away with that.”

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