Iowa Association for Energy Efficiency

IAEE Leadership Spotlight - Don Otto, Board Member


Home energy prices had already been rising in the 1970s when a handful of technically-minded DIYers (aka budding building scientists) joined together to become the Iowa Solar Energy Association. The oil embargo of 1978 made saving energy all the more urgent, and the DIYers wanted to challenge the “that’s the way we always did it” mentality.

With a few successes, we improved some of our buildings, but not without encountering unexpected problems: more insulation, vapor barriers, tightening the building envelope and even installing sealed combustion furnaces, for example, saved energy, but they made us sick. There was a danger of making a house “too tight” until we realized that HOUSES don’t need to breathe; WE do. We discovered that people needed fresh air, and that houses worked as a system with its occupants. We needed to find out how, and learning from each other at a conference once a year gave us the opportunity to share what worked, what didn’t, and why.

Obviously, one house improved is just one house improved, and the more houses upgraded, the greater difference we can make. IAEE has grown to providing organized systems that improve the way we build and renovate our buildings to the benefit of all Iowans; certainly many more than the ones and twos we started with. And IAEE is growing our family of alliances to benefit even more.

As enjoyable as it is to be a member, what’s best is a satisfaction in working with many bright and dedicated people, knowing we’re making a positive difference in the world, and an excitement in discovering something new every day.

Don Otto
DPO Construction, L.C.

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