Island Updates


Infrastructure Update

Post by Silas Rogers, Sustainability & Infrastructure Intern

Installing new windows and re-shingling the boathouse

Hurricane Island is a very busy place, and the summer season is in full swing. Not everyone on the island is involved in programs, however. It is essential to keep the island infrastructure in good shape, and Harbor Builders, of Rockport, Maine, have been commuting by boat to the island to carry out improvements to some of Hurricane’s existing buildings. They are installing new windows in the Boathouse, and re-shingling the exterior. The crew is dedicated, and accepts the challenges of working on the island. Working from an off-grid power source, scheduling commutes around weather conditions, working around programs, and getting materials to the island are a few of the complications the job entails.

Jim “Jimbo” Bernardo and his crew have not only made improvements to the Boathouse, but they have replaced the pier planking with new hemlock, are re-shingling a few of the cabins, and most recently they installed a new double door and screen at the north end of the Galley.

Installing the new inverter

Electricians from Rideout Electric worked July 7th to update and improve the solar electric system by installing a new Outback Power Systems 48 volt inverter to power the main buildings. The new system replaced the two 24 volt inverters of the old system, and twenty new AGM batteries replaced the old battery bank, allowing the system to operate at its full capacity of eight kilowatts. One benefit of the Outback inverter is that it can wirelessly controlled from a laptop, tablet, or smart phone, and data can be recorded very accurately.

The island also recently acquired a large wood chipper, on loan from Chip Bauer, a long time supporter of Hurricane Island and co-owner of Harbor Builders. The chipper, powered by a six-cylinder Ford engine, is a very effective way to break down brush, which is then spread on roads and trails.

Island improvements are well on track, and the buildings and grounds are improving little by little, with the help of these friendly people!

Harbor Builder Crew L-R: Ben "BP" Pomeroy, Ben "Okie" Oaks,  Jim "Jimbow" Bernardo, Mark "Putsky" Bowden

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Showerhouse Renovation Project Complete!

Post by Sam Hallowell

Over the past several years we have been renovating the existing buildings and structures on Hurricane to best meet the current and future needs of our programs.  We have been fortunate to have inherited these facilities on the island as a part of our 40-year lease, but this has also proved to be challenging in identifying and prioritizing which structures should be remodeled each year to support our new programs on-island. We have a working Master Plan to help inform and direct the process of infrastructure development, and in that process we have identified several guiding factors that have helped inform our decisions: capacity and sustainability. 

We have been intentional in developing systems to support the island community that are designed with and based on the use of sustainable technologies that are scaled to meet the demand of our human capacity, and that are also capable of expanding to meet future demand. While we are expecting and hopeful for continued growth in programs, we are also conscious of growing at a sustainable rate so that all or our resources can handle the demand.

Phase 1: building the deck extension to house the showerhouse, and give enough above-ground clearance to house the composting toilet bin

Phase 1: building the deck extension to house the showerhouse, and give enough above-ground clearance to house the composting toilet bin

In looking at these factors, we identified that we needed to expand our shower and toilet facilities to be able to accommodate larger groups for a sustained period of time.  Our current use of these facilities was reaching the extent of their functionality.  We worked with GO Logic of Belfast, Maine to help design an expansion of our current shower house building to incorporate another Clivus Multurm composting toilet as well as 2 additional showers.  We contracted with the skilled craftsman of Harbor Builders based in Port Clyde, Maine to build the extension off of the existing structure.  Extending from the original structure allowed allowed enough clearance above grade to accommodate the height of the new composting toilet system, and also consolidated our toilet and shower facilities located close to the constructed wetland that manages all the greywater produced at that facility.

The Clivus Multrum M12 composting toilet systems that was installed is designed to accommodate ­­­­­­­­­­up to 30,000 uses per year.  This composting system is slightly different system than the “foam flushing” version that we installed in 2013 in our other bathroom facility closer to Main Pier.  Without the need for water, these “dry toilets” will be able to be used throughout the year when our water system in not online, but still function with the same composting principals.  (Visit Clivus Multrum for more information on these systems.)

The complete extension! (Note the outdoor showers!)

The complete extension! (Note the outdoor showers!)

The extension has been connected to the existing solar thermal system that produces hot water (roof mounted evacuated tubes:  Click here to see a description of this system that was created by a volunteer staff member Juliette Bendheim) and has also been connected to our Constructed Wetland (designed by Russel Martin of Public Health Solutions and approved as an alternative wastewater treatment of grey water by the State of Maine).  

In planning of this structure, we decided that we wanted the facility to be self-sustaining and powered by a stand-alone photovoltaic system.  To do this we contracted with Rideout Electric (based in Warren, Maine) to install 4 solar panels, charge controller, inverter, and batteries to supply power to the whole showerhouse to make this a self-sustaining facility. Until this photovoltaic system was online we had been using a portable ReGenerator Power Management System, known as the “Power Cube” (designed, developed, and donated Lyman-Morse Technologies and Reluminati, and now owned by ZeroBase) as primary source of power for the existing shower house.  The “Power Cube” also served the primary source of power for the entire building process, with limited used of a gas generator during periods of the building process with peak electrical needs.

We are excited to have this system online for all of our fall programs and to be able to start the spring season with increased ability to handle larger programs without stressing our systems.  We also are excited to use this building as an educational demonstration facility for sustainable technologies to allow people to gain an understanding of ways to mitigate the impact that we have on our environment.

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