Mayor Steve Noble and his wife, Julie, practice what they preach on environment, and save money
KINGSTON >> For Kingston’s first couple, being green isn’t hard, it’s the Noble thing to do.
When they first met at Kingston High School and since their marriage 12 years ago, Kingston Mayor Steve Noble and his wife, Julie, an environmental educator for the city, say they have been committed to environmentalism.
They’ve talked the talk and they’re walking (or biking) the walk “because it’s the right thing to do,” Julie said. “It’s for our own health, for our family’s environment and for the health of the environment . ... It’s just the way we live.”
The Nobles’ Wilson Avenue home in the Roosevelt Park area of the city is a virtual environmental showpiece.
The couple and their 5-yearold son, Matthew, live in a 1,600-square-foot house featuring a leased 6.5-kilowatt solar array, which provides virtually all of the family’s electrical needs, including enough electricity to keep one electric car (a Ford Focus) and one hybrid (a Chevy Volt) charged.
They’ve changed every light bulb in the house to LED, Julie said, and under those 20 solar panels, the Nobles have installed “specially designed, energy-efficient” reflective roof shingles. Of course, their appliances are also energy-efficient and, while the family does own a clothes dryer, they dry most of their laundry on a clothesline, Julie said.
“We pay $24 to Central Hudson, which is solely for the service fees to connect to the grid. We pay $50 on our lease to pay for the solar panels,” Julie said. “There is no electricity charge. All electricity is covered by solar, and we actually make more than we need in the course of a year, so we get a refund at the end of the year.”
And, if that’s not green
enough, the mayor nearly always rides to work on a bicycle, Julie said recently, adding that, at about a mile, it’s not a difficult commute.
The family has converted a major portion of its lawn space into fruit and vegetable gardens. In deference to Matthew, who “still likes to throw around a ball,” they’ve left a bit of grass to play on, Julie said. And the lawn and gardens are kept hydrated by water collected in rain barrels and dispersed via a solar-powered pump.
Even the grass clippings from what’s left of the lawn and the organic waste from their fruits and vegetables are composted by the family in a backyard composter, she said. After recycling everything they can, the Nobles only generate enough non-renewable, non-recyclable, non-compostable waste to fill two small garbage bags a week.
From cleaning products to toiletries to lawn care, the family avoids toxic chemicals and, Julie said, it may have taken a bit more work, but the family’s lawn “looks just like everyone else’s at this point.”
Julie said she and the mayor “started thinking and living this way in high school,” where they were both involved in environmental groups, and their commitment has seamlessly carried into their adult lives.
Both earned environmental science degrees at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. And they were both environmental educators for the city until Steve was elected mayor in 2015.
For anyone who might like to give some of the Nobles’ approach a try, Julie provided the following links:
• For home energy assessment audits for making your home energy efficient, visit www.Saveenergyhudsonvalley.org or call RUPCO on Fair Street in Kingston, (845) 331-2140
• Recycling, composting and household hazardous waste information for Ulster County is available online at www.ucrra.org and at the Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency on Flatbush Avenue.
• For information on Energy Star appliances, visit www.energystar.gov/ products.
• For information on solar energy, visit www.so larizehudsonvalley.org, So larize Hudson Valley
• To learn about greening your landscape, contact the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County Master Gardener Program.
• For biking information, visit www.BikeFriendlyKingston.org.
• For rainwater collection tips and information about “greening your home,” visit www.sustainableulster.org.
Julie and Steve Noble in their Kingston back yard with their son, Matthew, 5 1/2.
The family’s Chevy Volt sits in their driveway plugged in to charge its battery.
Hanging your laundry out to dry and avoiding a dryer is a simple way to save energy.
The Nobles have even made the point to their son Matthew, 5 1/2, that his first car is electric.
Solar panels cover the Noble’s Kingston home.