LEED: ID1 Integrated Project Planning

Every LEED measure begins with a statement of intent. This is important because some projects meet the letter of the measure but not the spirit. For example, one can reduce water demand in irrigation by 45% (WE2.3) by paving over the lawn,

Pave the Lawn

but that doesn’t meet the objective to “minimize outdoor demand for water through water-efficient irrigation.” A better way to lessen irrigation through landscape design that also meets the intent of the measure is xeriscaping.

Xeriscaped yard

The intent of Innovation and Design Process 1 is to maximize opportunities for integrated, cost-effective adoption of green design and construction strategies.

This begins with a prerequisite, measure 1.1 Preliminary Rating.

As early as practical, conduct a preliminary LEED for Homes meeting, with the participation of the Provider and key members of the project team. As part of the meeting, create an action plan that identifies the following:
 The targeted LEED award level (Certified, Silver, Gold, or Platinum).
 The LEED for Homes credits that have been selected to meet the targeted award level.
 The party accountable for meeting the LEED for Homes requirements for each selected credit.

Those are pretty self-explanatory. And pretty easy to meet for this project: I’ve targeted Platinum, the credits I will use to meet that level have been chosen and will continue to be documented in this series, and I am the accountable party for all requirements.

So we move on to the credits.

Integrated Project Team

1.2 Integrated Project Team (1 point).

Assemble and involve a project team to meet the three criteria below:

a) Include team members, in addition to the builder and Green Rater, whose capabilities include at least three of the following skill sets:

  • architecture or residential building design;
  • mechanical or energy engineering;
  • building science or performance testing;
  • green building or sustainable design; and
  • civil engineering, landscape architecture, habitat restoration, or land-use planning.

b) Actively involve all team members referenced above in at least three of the following phases of the home design and construction process:

  • conceptual or schematic design;
  • LEED planning;
  • preliminary design;
  • energy and envelope systems analysis or design;
  • design development;
  • final design, working drawings or specifications; and
  • construction.

c) Conduct meetings with the project team at least monthly to review project status, introduce new team members to project goals, discuss problems encountered, formulate solutions, review responsibilities and identify next steps.

Keeping in mind the intent to maximize opportunities for integrated, cost-effective adoption of green design and construction strategies, I’m awarding this point to my project. There aren’t any other team members with whom I conduct meetings, but I’ve planned it with careful thought to all aspects of green building (electrical, plumbing, materials, design, etc.), and I can safely say that everyone involved in construction (still just me) is on board with my plans.


1.3 Professional Credentialed with Respect to LEED for Homes (1 point).

At least one principal member of the project team shall be a professional who is credentialed with respect to LEED for Homes as determined by the U.S. Green Building Council.

I can’t get this one; my credential is in Building Design and Construction, which is focused on commercial projects, schools, hospitals, and other non-residential projects.

Design Charrette

1.4 Design Charrette (1 point).

No later than the design development phase and preferably during schematic design, conduct at least one full-day integrated design workshop with the project team defined in ID 1.2. Use the workshop to integrate green strategies across all aspects of the building design, drawing on the expertise of all participants.

This one I’m awarding because I have spent far longer than one day integrating green strategies, and I’ve drawn on the expertise of many others, both through in-person discussions and internet research, to do so.

Sun Path

1.5 Building Orientation for Solar Design (1 point).

Design the home such that all of the following requirements are met:
a) The glazing area on the north- and south-facing walls of the building is at least 50% greater than the sum of the glazing area on the east- and west- facing walls.
b) The east-west axis of the building is within 15 degrees of due east-west.
c) The roof has a minimum of 450 square feet of south-facing area that is oriented appropriately for solar applications.
d) At least 90% of the glazing on the south-facing wall is completely shaded (using shading, overhangs, etc.) at noon on June 21 and unshaded at noon on December 21.

This one is a bit of a stretch because the bus moves, but a) after replacing some the windows with steel panels, the long sides of the bus have twice as much window area as the short sides of the bus; b) we can park it in whatever orientation is optimal; c) our whole floor plan is only 200 square feet, but I have 150 square feet of roof space reserved for adjustable solar panels; and d) we have retractable awnings.

If I were submitting this project formally, I would file a Credit Interpretation Request on this one. If a project team identifies an alternative way of achieving the intent of an existing LEED credit, the team can request permission to meet the intent of the credit using an approach that is different from the stated requirements.   I believe they would grant the credit under these circumstances, so I am awarding it.

ID1 Points: 3

Total Points so far: 3

Anna Keichline is Awesome

In honor of Ada Lovelace Day, I’m going to share the story of Anna Keichline, architect, inventor, and early proponent of space- and material-efficient design.

Anna KeichlineBorn in 1889 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, Anna Wagner Keichline started building at an early age. Encouraged in the pursuit by her parents, who provided her with a fully stocked carpentry workshop, she took first prize at the Centre County Fair at age 14 for an oak card table and a walnut chest.

After graduating high school in 1906, Anna studied mechanical engineering at Penn State for a year before transferring to Cornell to pursue architecture. A busy undergraduate, she was elected an officer of the junior class and was a member of the drama club,  Raven and Serpent honor society, Der Hexenkreis honor society, and the women’s basketball team.

At college we worked, many times, three and four days and nights without stopping; most always in those stretches I took time to make coffee and sandwiches for the fellows, then they would carry my board to the dormitory, where I could draw all night.

In 1912, only one year after graduating from Cornell, she received her first patent, for an improved combination washtub/sink design that made better use of space than its predecessors and was more comfortable for the user. That year also saw the completion of her first known architecture project, a schoolhouse in Milesburg, PA.

As dedicated to her country as she was to her work, Anna led the 1913 March for Women’s Suffrage in conjunction with her hometown’s Fourth of July parade,

Keichline suffrage served as a Special Agent with military intelligence during World War I, and was active with President Herbert Hoover’s Better Homes in America Conference.

She also drove, owned, and maintained her own automobile, a rarity for women at the time.

Anna2After the war, Ms. Keichline returned to her career, becoming the first woman registered to practice architecture in Pennsylvania in 1920 and designing buildings in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Washington, D.C.

She also procured patents for a kitchen “so designed as to involve the minimum amount of labor on the part of the housekeeper and to reduce the operative cost”, a portable partition, an air system, a toy, and a folding bed for apartments that recessed into the wall structure.


Anna’s most noted invention, however, was the K Brick.


Patented by Keichline in 1927, this forerunner of the modern concrete block “requires less clay to make than brick and because of its design takes less time to fire – the tile would reduce the weight of the wall by one-half.” Fireproof, cheap and light, the K-Brick could be filled with thermal or acoustic insulation. The American Ceramic Society recognized Keichline’s achievement in the invention of the K Brick in 1931.

Anna died of cancer in 1943 and was honored with an official state historical marker in 2002.

Keichline Monument

It stands in front of a building she designed in Bellefonte, once the Plaza Theater, now an antiques cooperative.


LEED: Introduction

USGBCThe U.S. Green Building Council was founded in 1993 to promote sustainability in the building and construction industry.  A green building rating system was a priority from the beginning, and in 2000, the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification system was unveiled to “single out commercial, institutional and residential projects noteworthy for their stellar environmental and health performance in both the United States and abroad.”

LEED has expanded a lot since then, adding more specific rating systems for Homes, Schools, Healthcare, and other specialized buildings, and its plans for the future include not only growth in those areas, but an added focus on ongoing monitoring and life cycle analysis to ensure that LEED certified buildings continue to perform at elevated levels of efficiency.

There are other green building systems out there, but LEED is the biggest and most widely known.

Part of my interest in working to LEED standards on this project comes from a desire for all buildings to be more sustainable, but the larger part is the drive to be as independent of the grid as possible, both in our travels and in any places we stay for longer periods of time. LEED standards set a good baseline and incorporate a wide variety of measures that bring us closer to that goal.

Those measures fall into eight major categories:lfhcredits2

  1. Innovation & Design (ID) Process
  2. Location & Linkages (LL)
  3. Sustainable Sites (SS)
  4. Water Efficiency (WE)
  5. Energy & Atmosphere (EA)
  6. Materials & Resources (MR)
  7. Indoor Environmental Quality (EQ)
  8. Awareness & Education (AE)

Each of these categories contains credit opportunities, some worth multiple points, with the end goal of a total point count in the desired classification range. After applying the Home Size Adjustment to our tiny floor plan, we will need 35 points for Certified, 50 for Silver, 65 for Gold, or 80 for Platinum out of a total of 136 points available.


As the bus is not a permanent building, all of this is academic; LEED doesn’t apply to buses, no matter how green. That said, this project is on track to achieve 80 points, and would be classified as a LEED Platinum Home if she were located permanently on a lot somewhere.

Subsequent posts about LEED will discuss each of the credits in turn as well as how we will achieve them or why we will not.


Where we’ve been the last two-and-a-half years:

Mostly ill, unfortunately, which is super boring. There was a giant (but benign!) tumor, and a surgery, and a troubled recovery through which I’m still slogging, but I’m doing a lot better than I was, and I’m continuing to improve. Here’s a picture of a puppy to celebrate that.

Happy Puppy

Where we are:

The bus conversion and the trip are still happening. It’s just taking longer to get on the road than we’d thought. The plan as of now is to be out of Portland in the fall of 2015.

Some work on the bus HAS been accomplished since the last post. It’s been in fits and starts, and often for twenty minutes at a time, but I’ve taken pictures throughout, so the next posts will catch up on the progress that’s been made. My goal is to put out one of those a week, then keep up with that schedule at a minimum going forward with new work.

I’m also going to be doing a weekly post about our Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design compliance. I’ve been a LEED Accredited Professional since 2008, and although our bus is not a permanent building, and so is ineligible for official Certification, I have planned it from the beginning to meet LEED Platinum benchmarks. I’ve mentioned that before, but I’m going to be going more in depth into what exactly that means and why it matters for this project.

TL;DR Summation:

I’ve been ill, but I’m back. You’ll be getting two posts a week now. Here’s another puppy.



The windows have been replaced.

The floor plan of the bus interferes with about half of the windows, and while I’m trying to keep the bus still looking like a school bus rather than an RV or a surveillance van, having windows in the back of our closets isn’t the best idea. I bought some 18 gauge cold-rolled steel cut to size from a supplier in town to cover the window frames in batches. After removing the rain gutters,

More rivets, of course.

and prepping the steel by cleaning with vinegar to remove the surface oils before priming,

Vinegar rocks as a cleaner.

I clamped the metal to the hat channels that support the roof and screwed the sheet through the holes that had previously held the window trim.

Clamped to the hat channel

I overlapped the metal by moving from the back to the front so that rain while we’re driving rolls off rather than seeping into the walls. I kept the first and last window trim pieces for that reason as well. I’m ultimately going to replace the screws with rivets so they don’t vibrate back out when we travel, but I’m waiting to do so until the framing is in just in case I need to make any adjustments. I’m pretty pleased with how it came out though.

Ready for walls

We still haven’t decided on the exterior paint scheme, so primer grey it will stay for a while. The inside is MUCH darker now,

Steel tunnel

but we have three skylights/exhaust fans to install, so we should still get enough natural light. For now, I need to get the floor rust-proofed. That’s next.

The rivets are gone at last

The recovery from wisdom tooth surgery turned into recovery from a broken jaw through a stroke of incredibly bad luck eating bread. No, that’s not a typo. I broke my jaw on a Peace Bomb. Killer bread indeed. The three weeks of Percocet turned into four months, and I’m just now starting to eat solid food without pain. Work on the bus was stalled for a while until our friend Amir

The Iron Sheik to Ethan's Macho Man

volunteered to help out for a couple of days. It was immensely helpful, and yesterday I was able to remove the final ceiling panel.

Naked bus interior

She needs a good vacuuming to remove the last shreds of insulation, but it’s so good to be done with rivet removal for a while.

Next step: Install the metal panels that are replacing some of the windows.

The Tile is Here!

So the rivet removal is coming along,

Rivet Removal in Process

but I’ve still got a long way to go. I have the metal waiting to replace the windows that are being removed. Alas. I’ve also needed to weld metal into the bottom “window” in the back door since about a month ago, but it hasn’t happened yet, so it rains inside for now. Not my favorite situation, but I had my last wisdom tooth removed three weeks ago, and welding under the influence of Percocet isn’t going to happen. So it waits. I had some rust damage in that area to repair already; a little more is not a big deal.

What IS a big deal is that I picked up the tile today! For all the things that have been difficult to find for this project, I have been incredibly fortunate with respect to the tile for the bathroom. I found the fabric for the shower curtain two years ago, and I knew I wanted hexagonal tiles to coordinate with it, but they are almost impossible to find, especially if you want something other than white or black. Enter Clayhaus Ceramics. Not only are their tiles hand made with 20% recycled glass content in the shape and colors I wanted, they happen to be in my neighborhood. Seriously, they are sixteen blocks away door to door, and Megan and Jason have been so great to work with.

I got it home and immediately laid a section out on the floor.

Tile Laid Out

So exciting! Here’s (roughly) how the bathroom is going to look when it’s finished.

Bathroom Layout

The canister on the back wall is for the bulking materials for the composting toilet. It’s pretty much peat moss and wood shavings, but we need to add a cup of it every time we use the toilet, so it needs to be readily available. I found a cereal dispenser from a company that makes them in Rhode Island that should work well. Everything else should be pretty self-explanatory.

I’m really pleased that we’ll have a full ceramic-tiled shower on the bus. It’s definitely a luxury, and not just in terms of the space it occupies – water storage and the energy and space used by the water heater are hugely problematic considerations – but it’s an enormous step up in terms of quality of life over the cramped plastic cubby holes you find in most RVs.

If the weather cooperates, I’ll finish removing the wall rivets this week. There will still be plenty in the ceiling to remove, but I’m looking forward to having a significant portion completed. If we actually get some time without rain, I may be able to get the windows replaced this week as well, but that’s a bit ambitious and, if the weather forecast is right, pretty unlikely. I’ll take it as it comes and update when I can.


A bus is mainly held together with rivets.

In their natural habitat.

They come in two sizes, and there are about 1500 of them in the interior of the bus, all of which need to be removed.

The smaller of the two varieties have an indentation in the center and are relatively easy to remove by simply drilling them out. The larger ones are a different story. They have a raised and rounded center which must be ground flat,

Grind 'em down

then center punched and drilled out.

Drill 'em out

Then the heads need to be knocked off with a hammer and cold chisel.

Knock 'em off

Hundreds upon hundreds of times.

Silly me, I had thought that when I finished removing these damned things that the wall panels would pull right off. Not so much.

First you have to remove the windows. (Thankfully, these are held in place with screws.)

Screw the windows.

Then there are more rivets.

Bloody window rivets.

Finally, I can remove the wall panel.

Behind the metal

Oh, dear.

Well, let’s pull out the old insulation and see what we’ve got.

Better. Mostly.

Better, but still problematic. I’ve got a little moisture, which is not good, but no rust, so I think it’s just condensation. I also have nineteen more panels to remove, so I’m going to hold off on concern until I can get a look at the whole picture.

I should know more in a few days.

So it’s been a year

I finally received my welding equipment, and it started raining the next day. This is Portland, so that’s not entirely unexpected. The problem is that it didn’t stop for ten months. So Ethan and I went out of town (as often as possible),

Uh, yeah, I think I'm going to go down to the Shore.

made snowpeople,

Lewdcompeted in the US National Beard and Moustache Championships,

ethan-jamiewent to some music festivals,

Not from this year's HSMF, but you get the idea.and started taking circus classes,

Tera at circus classand my work on the bus was primarily research.

A lot of research.

Because people don’t really DO stuff like this. Sure, they convert school buses occasionally, but those usually fall into one of two groups: those designed for living in full time

Living Room

and those designed for traveling.

Party Bus

We need ours to do both. What’s more, we need ours to rely as little as possible on outside inputs – ideally we’ll be able to go two full weeks away from civilization without significantly changing our living habits – so no propane appliances, no shore power, no water hook-ups.


We’re pretty much out of RV territory here. And as the whole thing has to move whenever we want to go elsewhere, we’re excluded from the off-grid homesteader camp as well.


Additionally, a school bus inherently has different dimensions than other vehicles that make adapting existing products difficult, if not impossible. My most frustrating experience on this front is the huge ground clearance, which is awesome for working underfloor, but terrible for leveling the bus.

Because you can’t live off-kilter without it screwing with your head, we need a system to level the living area regardless of the terrain on which we’re parked. These are common on RVs.


There are many manufacturers of several different styles. They come in myriad sizes. None of them will fit the bus. I have spoken with engineers at a half dozen companies, and they all assure me that their products are completely inappropriate for my use. I finally managed to track down a company that builds leveling systems for specialty vehicles,

Super Specialty

and we can use their product on the bus, but I seriously had to talk to the engineers of custom built military and police products to find what I needed. This type of thing has happened for pretty much every major item we need. Toilet? There is one and only one that will work for us,


and the first company I contacted didn’t want to sell it to me, so I had to find another supplier. Ceramic tile, you say? I have to use a specific system.

schluter-kerdiIn some ways, this is all pretty cool. I’m learning a lot, I’m confident that the materials I’m using are the best materials available, and I haven’t been able to do much on the bus proper anyway because of the weather. (Once the rain finally stopped, it hovered around 100 degrees for a month. Not the best time to be in a metal box.) I’m antsy to see physical progress though.

Electrical remnants and other fun finds

I’m still waiting on my welding gear to arrive, so I thought I’d tear out some of the random electrical bits that remain from previous systems that I don’t want to use. Things like the breaker box that doesn’t have anything feeding it,

Breaker Box

and the cut off wires stubbed into the floor.

Wire Stubs

The first one was easy and pretty painless; I just had to remove a few screws. The second required my climbing under the bus.

Now, I’ve been under the bus before this. I had to climb down there to unbolt the driver’s seat, and I looked around some before we purchased the bus in the first place. It really isn’t too bad. It’s high enough that I can kneel in most places without hitting my head, and it’s in good shape overall.

That said, there’s some gross stuff down there,

Hornets' nests

and some annoying stuff,

Cracked exhaust fitting

and some downright scary stuff.

Unconnected transmission connector

There’s also the mystery substance, which I believe to be pretty substantial rust, but I’ve not seen anything quite like it before. It’s only in two places, and it almost seems like those pieces of metal were welded with acid that’s been slowly eating them. Low grade steel maybe?

Super rust?

All of which I will have to deal with another day. My concern today is this:

Undercarriage electrical

And what’s under the duct tape?

Household receptacles

Really? Household receptacles? No weatherproofing or anything besides duct tape? I presume they served some purpose at some point, but I can’t imagine why anyone would deliberately install this particular configuration. They were conscientious enough to goop up the bolts;

Goop being the technical term

they couldn’t bother to use the appropriate receptacles? I’ll grant you, these faceplates are tough to remove…

VERY tough to remove


I see.

Seriously? Silicone caulk?

Silicone caulk, huh?