Connecting To The Grid – Good or Bad for off-the-grid communities?

Posted in Alternative Energy, Environmental responsibility, Solar, Tuckernuck on November 24, 2010 by gravelshoalgroup

No Name Key is a key connected by a small bridge in the Florida Keys. For years the 43 houses that are on the small island have relied on alternative energy, and, of course in Florida, there’s no shortage of sunshine, especially in the keys. Now there are motions being made to connect the small community to the grid, where it will be optional for residents to connect.

A house on No Name Key, FL

Normally, solar panels have associated batteries that the juice is stashed in when there’s an overage. Additionally, the residents of No Name Key are reliant on diesel-fed generators to power their homes. NPR just launched an article on this way of living and how it may be changed forever once the key is hooked up to the grid. Some residents feel that it will compromise the way of living on the island.

The situation on No Name Key seems oddly similar to that of an adjoining island to Nantucket named Tuckernuck. If you’re not familiar with the pristine beauty of Tuckernuck here, it’s no-man’s land. A smattering of houses throughout the 900 square acres, Tuckernuck is not connected to the grid. Gravel Shoal Group has had the pleasure of building or renovating several of the houses on Tuckernuck, and solar is a pretty common occurrence over there, as well as diesel-gobbling generators. There’s no connection to the grid, cable, gas, etc. over there. Residents of the island, however, do just fine. I’m not entirely sure if there are any strictly-Tuckernuck-year-rounders over there (it’s a hop, skip, and a jump in the summer to get over there in the nicer weather, but in the winter you are at the mercy of the weather).

Solar paneling from a house we did on Tuckernuck

Solar paneling from a house we did on Tuckernuck

Tuckernuck: off of Nantucket's western shore

On this comparative note, what are your thoughts on connecting an island that seems to do just fine without grid connection? Do you think No Name Key is at risk for over-development now that grid connection is an option for people who may have otherwise strayed from living there? Do you think the same could happen on Tuckernuck?


Windspire’s silent but awesome power

Posted in Wind Turbines, Windspire on October 29, 2010 by gravelshoalgroup

Check out our video on youtube of what the windspire unit looks like and how quiet it really is. 🙂

Of course, we don’t just stop with wind power, but this vertical turbine unit is one of our more recent project. Coming up soon = solar panels!

Magnetic Levitation Wind Turbines. Sweet.

Posted in Alternative Energy, Wind Turbines on October 6, 2010 by gravelshoalgroup

Who would have thought – magnetic levitation wind turbines have been in production since 2006. Jay Leno’s endorsing them, so why not? The average 2.5 KW one is quoted a little over $11k.

This is pretty interesting though, and definitely worth looking into.

Until next time….

Global Baggage

Posted in Uncategorized on August 27, 2010 by gravelshoalgroup

I found this great post from Discover Magazine yesterday about a kid who found plastic-eating bacteria (yum) and thought it should be shared. Of course, the problem isn’t fully solved but it’s definitely a start. What a great idea, to utilize an existing organism to solve the plastic bag pollution of the world. Ever hear of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? It’s bigger than the size of Texas. Birds, apparently, are known to feed their young plastic as food and of course, it results in their death. It’s filled with plastic bags, ship generated pollutants, and other fantastic amounts of trash. The plastic is the kicker though….

On Nantucket, the local Stop & Stop (our grocery store here, or one of a few at least) does not supply plastic bags. In fact, I can’t think of anything besides take-out in restaurants that provide plastic bags to clients. Most of the local shops use paper bags as well. Sure, plastic can come in handy when covering your head from the rain, or wrapping up stinky sneakers, or even collecting trash, but overall, the use of plastic on the island is a lot slimmer than I’ve ever seen off island.

Solar Highways? Yes please.

Posted in Alternative Energy, Environmental responsibility, Green Jobs, Solar on August 12, 2010 by gravelshoalgroup

This gives a whole new meaning to the term “paving the way.” What a brilliant idea. Of course, pouring  a load of concrete down requires a lot less technical saviness than laying down glass roads that are load bearing, weather resistant, etc. that absorb the sunlight for power.

But how cool? For more info, look at their website for Solar Roadways here.


Posted in Uncategorized on August 10, 2010 by gravelshoalgroup

Recycling and re-using materials is a key element to the environment’s wellfare, and we ❤ anything that has to do with keeping things out of a landfill. We’ve all heard the term “reducing the carbon footprint” but this takes it to a whole new level with constructing furniture out of bikes.



We could see this one sitting on one of our beaches:


Especially since some of us here are avid cyclists, we thought everyone would enjoy this one.

Until next time.

Energy Costs

Posted in Energy Costs, Energy options, Recycling on August 4, 2010 by gravelshoalgroup

The past few years has seen a surge in the “green” movement, where people are becoming more and more conscious of the state of our environment and how important it is. What has us all going and motivated in many respects, are the cost saving factors. I found a great article this morning in Real Simple that talks about cutting energy costs by unplugging devices when not in use (which apparently account for a lot more than I realized) updating appliances (even appliances as new as 2000 suck more power than ones made recently)

One thing that I must admit I am not partial to is the disposal of things that suck too much power (like a big fridge, for example). Is it more worth it to keep it out of a landfill where it will take who-knows-how-long to decompose, if ever? Or is it more beneficial to keep it on the grid?

Our licensed home energy rating expert has discussed this at length with clients, what’s more worth it environmentally versus the cost-saving measures, and how that all factors into things. The truth of the matter is that each situation, household, building, etc. is different. But the cost saving ideas are there, and that’s a good thing to keep people motivated.

Until next time.