We have a few more weeks of winter, but I am not holding my breath for any snow days. It’s going on two weeks of rain and 70-degree weather that just makes you feel like opening a window or going outside. It’s that time of year when we can be surrounded by the beauty and benefits of nature without leaving campus, although we are surrounded by nature’s beauty no matter where you are in Johnson City.

East Tennessee State University’s campus is beautiful from its mountainous views to perfectly groomed landscape, but why, as a growing campus, is this university not doing more to incorporate green into its future, and no, not the color.

As a campus located in the shadow of the mountains, you might think we are one of the top schools at the forefront of combining eco-life into our campus life. I am not talking about the landscaping or the fact that we recycle but about the future of energy and our coexistence with our planet.

I was recently visiting the University of Louisville, and I noticed a 4-story building covered about three fourths of the way up with vines. My friend, with whom I was visiting, explained to me it was their new parking garage and the designers had purposefully covered it in a wire mesh and planted vines at the base to incorporate life into architecture.

This practice has been a change for cities to incorporate plant life into growing cities and can be seen in various ways, like rooftop gardens for example.

Another valuable incorporation of “green” is solar energy. You may think that solar energy use is excessive in a small place like ETSU, but every bit of renewable energy is an economically and financially smart move in the long run. As of now, there are few solar panels on top of the Center for Physical Activity, but there should certainly be more.

The wasted space covering the roof of the Mini-dome, library, academic buildings and future performing arts center may not power the entire campus’ energy needs, but it would definitely cut down on the carbon footprint left behind.

Other “green” projects could be taken into account too, such as the rooftop gardens and other student projects. Students can help the cause by recycling in their dorms or walking through campus with their recyclable bottles. Taking recycling from the nearby apartments to the ETSU recycling centers on campus is a step students can take too.

Although we are in no way a concrete jungle here at ETSU, it would be nice to see nature fully incorporated into our campus both cosmetically and functionally. At ETSU it is not our mission or our goal to be a forerunning college in green technology or to be off the grid, but as humans it is our responsibility to preserve and protect the integrity of our natural surroundings. By giving back to nature we also benefit from saving money, keeping the school beautiful and being an example for others to follow both environmentally and academically.