Dorian Dale lives by the mantra, ‘waste not, want not,” which he takes so far as to reuse things like paper towels and dental floss.
Over the past four years as the Town of Babylon’s energy director and sustainability officer, he has infused that enthusiasm into establishing “green” criteria for new commercial and home building, and developing a system of financing and administering an energy-efficiency program that has become a model for local governments around the country.
The program, Long Island Green Homes, encourages investments in everything from new water boilers to windows to solar panels by allowing homeowners to be billed over an average of eight to nine years under a special assessment to their homes.
“Unbeknownst to us, we effectively became the first operational program in the country,” he said. “We - just kind of tinkering away here in the outer reaches of Long Island - came up with that solution, and it turned into quite a phenomena.”
He said about 24 states across the country have since passed similar legislation. Dale said these initiatives put Babylon on the map for energy efficiency, alongside big cities like New York, Chicago and Portland.
These efforts have earned him recent recognition.
In the past month, Dale has received two prestigious honors for his work with the town. He was named the Eighth Distinguished Citi Fellow for Leadership and Ethics by the Citi Foundation and the NYU Stern School of Business, and he was also accepted as a faculty member of the first China Climate Leadership Academy of the Institute for Sustainable Communities.
As a fellow, Dale is the last name on an impressive list, including Arthur Levitt, the longest-serving chairman of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. Fellows visit the NYU campus twice a semester to engage with faculty and students and participate in an annual conference.
As a faculty member at the China Climate Leadership Academy, he will have the opportunity to teach and study in China.
Dale said he sees the honors as not just being awarded to him, but to the town of Babylon and the many people he has worked with there in a sort of “grassroots” sustainability effort.
“The fact that Babylon has been able to address those distinct issues and address them very effectively,” he said. “It’s been very striking for a lot of people.”
He said starting the sustainability effort at the level that Babylon has – one house at a time – is paving the way for large-scale improvements.
“It makes me feel better about my family, about my community,” he said of each homeowner who has taken the initiative to make their homes more energy efficient. “And maybe it also makes me feel better about what we need to do in this world.”