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Pasteris wins Northfield stewardship award

Robert Pasteris, chairman of the Northfield Energy Committee, has won the town's sixth-annual Citizen Stewardship Award.

Robert Pasteris, chairman of the Northfield Energy Committee, has won the town's sixth-annual Citizen Stewardship Award.

NORTHFIELD — One man’s effort to make less of an impact on the world has garnered him a local award.

Robert Pasteris, chairman of the town’s Energy Committee, has been given the annual Northfield Citizen Stewardship award.

“The award was given in recognition of Pasteris’ leadership skills, vision and hours of hard work he put into accomplishing this multi-year effort of applying for ‘Green Community’ status in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” said Jennifer Tufts, coordinator of the award for the town’s Open Space Committee.

Northfield was added to the state’s growing list of green communities last year, and the designation came with a $143,000 grant for energy-efficient projects. That first-year grant is being used to upgrade the insulation and windows in Dickinson Memorial Library and Town Hall. Double-glazed plastic window inserts are now being installed on 40 windows in the library to cut down on heat loss.

The committee will soon study the feasibility of a 4.8-kilowatt solar electric array on the senior pavilion roof, and converting town buildings from oil to wood pellet heat, said Pasteris.

Though he had the help of the Energy Committee’s six other members, Tufts said Pasteris played a crucial role in helping the town meet the five criteria of the green communities program.

The committee worked to instate plans for an as-of-right siting for solar electrical generation, adopt an expedited permitting process for that site, measure the energy used by town vehicles and buildings and drafted a five-year plan to reduce it by 20 percent, came up with a fuel-efficient town vehicle replacement plan, and advocated for the town to adopt the “stretch code” which establishes energy-efficient standards for new construction.

Besides all the research and paperwork, Pasteris and crew had to sell residents on the ideas. This was no easy task when pitching the stretch code to the May 2012 annual town meeting. Though many at the meeting made a case against the stringent additions to the building code, and discussed its pros and cons at length, it eventually passed, 83-56. With that vote, the town met the last criterion

“I can personally attest to all the hard work Bob and the Energy Committee put into becoming a green community,” said Selectboard Chairwoman Kathleen Wright. “It was a very challenging grant project. I was very proud to stand with them at the green community ceremony in Amherst.”

Though Tufts said Pasteris was the linchpin that held the team together through the project, she said he’s a modest man, reluctant to take any credit. She said it took some convincing just to get him to accept the award.

“It’s definitely not a one-person endeavor,” Pasteris said as he accepted the award. “I had a lot of help from (committee members) Annie Chappel, John Cevasco, and Peter Talmage, and past members Rich Fitzgerald, Mo Spaulding, and the late Walt Congdon. He was a mentor to me, and a very wise man.”

He also thanked his wife, Susan Pasteris, for being there through all his late nights meeting deadlines and dealing with computer issues.

Before he became a founding member of the Energy Committee in 2005, Pasteris worked as a water pollution control expert for 30 years, in both private and public sectors.

“Bob has been a dedicated advocate for energy efficiency, renewable energy and generally trying to live a low impact lifestyle,” said Tufts.

Energy consciousness is something Pasteris takes home with him.

When they moved to town in 1977, Pasteris and his wife built a house on South Mountain Road, and incorporated passive solar elements into its design.

They’re not the only green-minded folks in town. Pasteris is the sixth recipient of the annual Citizen Stewardship Award.

“The award was established to recognize citizens or groups that exemplify the spirit and contribute to the goals of the Open space and Recreation Plan, which has recently been updated,” said Tufts.

Each year, the town’s residents are asked to nominate a fellow citizen they think deserves the award.

“Previous awards have been made to individuals and groups engaged in land and water resource conservation, trail work, and advocacy,” said Tufts.

The first recipients were Samuel and Barbara Richardson. The second award went to Joanne McGee, followed by Bill Ames, then the Greater Northfield Watershed Association. Bill and Christine Copeland received last year’s award, for amassing 183 acres off West Mountain Road, and placing it into a “forever wild” conservation restriction.

David Rainville can be reached at:
drainville@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 279

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