1980-1981 – Curtis J. Klaassen

Became ASHRAE Student Member in 1974 while attending South Dakota State University.  Received Education Scholarship from the South Dakota ASHRAE Chapter.

Transferred ASHRAE membership to Iowa Chapter in 1975 after beginning employment as an intern engineer with Environmental Engineers, Inc., Des Moines, Iowa; under the dynamic mentorship of Robert W. Flanagan, ASHRAE Fellow.

Elected as Iowa Chapter ASHRAE President during the 1980-81 term after serving on the Iowa Chapter Board and moving through the chapter chairs.  Some of the notable activities and responsibilities during my tenure as Board Member, Officer and President included:

•          Organizing and producing the first Iowa Chapter ASHRAE Product Directory.  The directory promoted the Iowa Chapter, indexed and cross referenced local building products and suppliers and also became a source of revenue.  While updated and computerized, the Iowa Chapter Membership Rooster and Product Directory format remained essentially unchanged.

•          The Iowa Chapter participated in a major national ASHRAE Society project to disseminate information on the Emergency Building Temperature Restrictions (EBTR).  The EBTR were federally enacted regulations placing temporary restrictions on temperatures for heating, cooling and domestic water for nonresidential buildings in response to the energy crisis of the late 1970’s.  Several Iowa Chapter ASHRAE Members, including myself, made a number of training presentations around the state on understanding and complying with the regulations.  However, ASHRAE did not serve as ‘thermostat police’ during those early days of energy conservation.

•          Attendance at the Chapters Regional Conferences (CRCs) held at various Midwest cities.   As delegate for the Iowa Chapter, authored and presented a motion recommending that membership dues collection for local ASHRAE Chapters and the national ASHRAE organization be consolidated onto one dues statement.  While the motion was approved, it took several years and the support of other ASHRAE Regions before the recommendation was implemented by the national ASHRAE Society.

•          “Understanding Heat Gain/Heat Loss of Buildings” was an evening class sponsored by Iowa Chapter ASHRAE and delivered through the Des Moines Area Community College adult education program.  The ten week course was directed toward technical people in building industry.  Served as the lead instructor and was supported by three Iowa Chapter members.  The course was offered for several years.

•          The demand for engineers in the building energy and HVAC fields was gaining momentum with the energy crisis of the time.  An initiative with Iowa State University followed with a focus on developing an HVAC curriculum option and an ASHRAE Student Chapter at ISU.



The Iowa Chapter meetings were regularly held at the clubhouse for the Urbandale Golf and Country Club during the mid-1970s.  As chapter meeting attendance increased in the late 1970s, the chapter meetings were moved to the Echo Valley Country Club near Norwalk, IA.  During those years, attendance at chapter meetings ranged from 40 to 60 members.  The Iowa Chapter took in the Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Waterloo, and Cedar Falls areas prior to the creation of the Cedar Valley Chapter.

Each Iowa Chapter meeting contained a strong technical element with presentations on various HVAC related topics by regional and national speakers.  “Energy Conservation” and the emerging field of Building Automation Systems (controlled through centralized mainframe computers) were popular topics.  Variable Air Volume systems were the new energy conserving HVAC systems of choice, displacing multizone, reheat, and dual duct systems. New VAV technologies included equipment ranging from crude fan inlet vane configurations to sophisticated adjustable speed fan belt drive packages with magnetic eddy current clutches to vary fan airflow for the new VAV systems.

Energy Studies of all types were being conducted.  Energy conservation emphasized simple strategies to reduce energy use.  At the top of the list were night setback temperatures and night shutdown of equipment with timeclock control; reducing and almost eliminating outside ventilation air; deadband thermostats preventing heating or cooling energy use between 65°F and 78°F; delamping light fixtures and reducing window areas.  At the time cooling EERs were in the single digits and a good chiller would clear under 1 kw/ton.  Energy efficiency was just beginning to gather attention as a design approach.

In addition to the technical focus, there was a decidedly social aspect to the chapter meetings and events.  Following the adjournment of the technical portion of the meeting, a large share of the membership reconvened to network with friends, associates and competitors.  The fellowship of an after meeting social hour (or hours) frequently evolved into groups at several tables supporting a friendly card game.

The Fall Frolic and Spring Fling served as social activity bookends to the ASHRAE technical season.  A full slate of social activities was scheduled for both members and spouses.  In addition to the traditional afternoon golf outing at a local country club, tennis was an option for men and women.  The evening event featured an elegant dinner at the club for members, spouses and guests with entertainment and dancing to follow.  One notable Spring Fling event shifted to the casual side with golf at the Jester Park Golf Course followed by a country western party at the old Jester Park Barn – complete with steak fry, keg beer and a barn dance with a live country western band.  The Past Presidents Posse was charged with grilling the steaks and keeping the peace.

Contributed by Curtis Klaassen