APRIL 16, 2014 BY 

Second interview in Paul’s Series: Sustainability is… your neighbor 
(To view prior post click here)

John Spezia is a familiar figure to many in Steamboat. He moved here in 1972, and bought his 800 square foot house in Fairview in 1980. The house was relocated from Milner to Fairview  in 1962, and Spezia speculates that it was originally built in the late 30s.  This is truly a recycled house that reflects his values and priorities.


Over the years John and his wife, Diane Brower, have done a lot to make the house energy efficient, including the addition of insulation, the installation of solar panels, an energy-efficient wash machine, window quilts and a super efficient electric water heater located in the basement, powered by the solar panels. “It’s so well insulated that if the water heater is turned off for a week it’s still warm enough to take a shower. And the house uses about 10.5  kw per day,” according to Spezia.

Improvements to the property – including the elaborately designed chicken coop, the compost system, a greenhouse, and the raised garden bed – were made from recycled material bought at garage sales and other non-traditional sources.

When asked about his dedication to sustainable living, John explained, “I was raised by a single mother in a situation where resources were very scarce, so it was necessary to husband those resources. Poverty is thought to cause degradation and short-term goals at the expense of the environment, but in my case I extended those skills to living sustainably before sustainability was part of anyone’s vocabulary.”

When he’s not working to make his home more energy efficient, Spezia is active in the community; he taught at the Colorado Mountain College Steamboat Campus for 28 years, was involved in the Steamboat 700 and other efforts to retain open space, and advocated for the recent solar garden project that is a partnership between Yampa Valley Electric Association and Clean Energy Collective. He also has a passion for affordable housing and has served for the last 20 years on the board of the Steamboat Springs Housing Authority,

Recently John and Diane said goodbye to their 1984 Toyota with 120,000 miles after an unsuccessful attempt to resurrect the vehicle; they rarely need to drive because Spezia chose a location in town that allows him to bike, ski, walk or use the buses to get where he needs to go. He admits to being “addicted to the natural world, snow and wild places,” and is dedicated to preserving the area’s natural environments as well as enjoying them.

You can view the 2012 Green Building Tour Teaser video of John’s home here: