Category Archives: Cover Story

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center

INTRODUCTION

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center is a multifunctional and environmentally sustainable education, arts, and recreation complex/destination comprised of the Stavros Niarchos Park, 85% of the 170,000m2(42acre) and new, state-of-the-art facilities for the National Library of Greece (NLG) and the Greek National Opera (GNO)15% .

ARCHITECT

The design of the SNFCC project has been appointed to an internationally acclaimed architect, Renzo Piano (www.rpbw.com), after a closed international architectural competition, by an unanimous decision of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation’s Board of Directors (February 2008).The name of the Italian architect has become synonymous with high architecture for the last 40 years and is related to projects of similar scope and visibility in all over the world.

CONSTRUCTION COSTS

The total SNFCC project will cost approximately €566/$803 million to plan, construct and deliver to the Greek State. In 2009, the Foundation signed a contract with the Greek State, which was ratified by the Greek Parliament agreeing to assume the total cost of building the SNFCC. The grant is one of the largest donations in Greece’s history.

SITE

The SNFCC site is located 4.5 km south of central Athens on the edge of Faliro Bay. Following discussions with the Ministries involved and the mayor of Kallithea, consensus emerged that this site was the most appropriate and available piece of land for the construction of a project of such magnitude. The site is owned by the Greek State.

SNFCC’s UNIQUENESS

SNFCC’s uniqueness lies in offering all programs and activities under one “roof” and therefore combining all the benefits of an opera, a library and a park. The participation in Arts and culture activities and programmes comes to reality.

ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS

SNFCC will serve as a beacon of environmental sustainability in Greece and be the standard against which all other major infrastructure projects are measured. It will be the first public building in Greece to obtain the internationally recognized green building LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.
Its construction will be green-friendly, using recycled materials and implementing an erosion, sedimentation and dust suppression plan.
At least 50 percent of construction waste will be recycled, and at least 5 percent of building materials will be reused.
SNFCC will double the green surface per capita in the surrounding municipalities of Kalithea, Moschato, Nea Smirni and Palaio Faliro.
It will save approximately 2,750 tons of CO2 emissions annually.
It will improve air quality.

ECONOMIC-SOCIAL ΒΕΝEFITS

The construction and operation of the SNFCC is expected to have positive impacts in the form of increased capital investments, consumption spending, job creation, attraction of complementary business and other enrichments to the local communities.
It will yield a €340 million direct output in Greece, while the overall contribution (direct, indirect and induced effects) of SNFCC construction to the total output of the Greek economy will be approximately €1 billion.
It will furnish a much-needed stimulus to the industrial and construction sectors, where approximately 80% percent of the impact will be concentrated.
1,500 to 2,400 people will be employed each year to support SNFCC construction and all backward-linked economic industries.
Approximately €40 million in fiscal revenues will be produced throughout the construction phase. The combined effects of operations and visitor spending associated with SNFCC activities will generate approximately €160 million of economic activity throughout the local community, Athens, and Greece in the first full year of operations. SNFCC could attract around 1.5 million visitors annually.

* We are grateful to “Stavros Niarchos Foundation” and especially to Ms. Lenia Vlavianou for their valuable help.  We also thank Niarchos Family for their donation that will change the cultural reality in Athens.

Our “Green” Patriarch

Introduction

His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I ,the Archbishop of Constantinople and New Rome has been the 270th successor of the throne of Christian Church founded by St. Andrew ,”first among equals” (primus inter pares) in the Eastern Orthodox Communion, since 22 October 1991. He was born in the village of Agioi Theodoroi in the island Imvros. His birth name was Dimitrios Arhondonis.

As Ecumenical Patriarch, he has been particularly active internationally. One of his first focuses has been on rebuilding the once-persecuted Eastern Orthodox Churches. For this reason invited Primates in Fanar, where they all sent a message of unity in the world. These Assemblies where resumed in 1995 in Patmos, in January 2000 in Jerusalem and in December in the same year in Instabul and in Nice of Bithinia.

He has also continued the reconciliation dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church started by his predecessors. As part of this effort, he invited Pope Benedict XVI to Instabul, who accepted the invitation and made an official visit to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinopole (the Lantern) in November 2006 where he attended anniversary Celebration of the Enthroned Patriarchate and signed a Joint Declaration.

Bartholomew I, initiated dialogue with other faiths, including other Christian sects, Muslims, and Jews, to promote religious freedomand human rights, peace in the world and environmental issues.

Environment

Aware that the environmental destruction is  a very important  problem that threatens God’s Creation, he has put the environmental protection high in his Patriarchate’s agenda and has been behind various international environmental causes. This has earned him the nickname of “The Green Patriarch”. He has also named the 1st of September as the Day of Prayer for the Environmental Protection.

Honors

  • In 1997, His All Holiness received the Congressional Gold Medal  the highest civilian award given by the United States.
  • In 2002, His All Holiness received the Sophie Prize for his work on the environment.
  • In April 2008, he was included on the Time 100 most influential people in the world list.
  • In 1999 he was awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of the Star of Romania.
  • In 2004 the Great Golden Medal with Ribbon for Services to the Republic of Austria by Federal President Thomas Klestil.
  • He has also been awarded Ηonorary Doctorates by a number of Universities and Educational Institutions around the world.

Education

  • Elementary school in his native Imvros.
  • Zographeion Lyceum in Istanbul.
  • Patriarchal Theological school of Halki. He graduated with highest honours in 1961.
  • August 1961 he was ordained Deacon, receiving the name Bartholomew.
  • 1961-1963 fulfilled his military service in the Turkish army as a non regular officer.
  • 1963-1968 Graduate studies, received  his Ph.D  on the Canon Law. The same year he became a lecturer in the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.
  • 1968 return to Istanbul.
  • October 1969 he was ordained a Priest.
  • October 22, 1991 he was elected Ecumenical Patriarch.
  • He speaks Greek, Turkish, Italian, German, French and English; he is also fluent in classical Greek and Latin.

* We met our Ecumenical Patriarch at his office at the Lantern (Fanari). Catalytic presence, calm in the eyes and dynamic voice, the Head of our Church, welcomed us, shared with us his concerns about the difficult economic situation in our country, for young people, with and without job, for His environmental sensitivities. The following interview is an honour and a blessing as well. We thank Him.

Ecotourism in Greece

Introduction

Ecotourism, or else ecological tourism, is the travel and tourism activity to natural and/or protected areas. Ecotourism is mostly low scale and aims in educating the traveler while directly it provides economic benefits to the local communities. It appeals to socially conscious travelers and focuses on new ways to live on the planet. In most cases, it takes place in areas of rich flora, fauna and cultural heritage. In this section we provide you with a selection of various high-quality Ecotourism places in Greece:

Ionian Islands

Tracing a ragged line down the west coast of Greece at no more than 30 km from the mainland, the Ionian Islands form an independent group of small and large islands. They comprise a core group of seven; Corfu, Paxi-Antipaxi, Kefalonia, Ithaca, Lefkada, Zakynthos and Kythira. A variety of relaxing trekking routes through the lowlands and a number of hiking on foot or by bike is still the best way to discover the hidden charms of the islands. Vast tracts of forest cloak the rugged landscape with peaks topping 5.000 feet, while plenty of beautiful golden beaches with hundreds of secluded white coves provide small havens to sun lovers. There are over 1.200 difference species of flowers and plants and a local fauna that boasts at least 30 different species of birds. Loggerhead turtles (Carreta – Carreta) has used the southern shores of Zakynthos to nest and lay their eggs.

Allonisos

For the eco tourist in Greece, Alonissos is the Sporades Island which has been designated one of the six “Eco Islands” of Europe by the European Community. Alonissos is in the heart of a protected Marine Park of Greece consisting of a number of small uninhabited islets which dot the waters around the Sporades islands. This Marine Park was established in 1992 and was set up with the intention of protecting one of the world’s most endangered species, the Monk Seal, which lives around the coast of Alonissos along with protecting rare species of flora and fauna on the island.

Anavra

The village of Anavra, in the Prefecture of Magnesia (near Almyros, Volos City) is a template village. In time of crisis Anavra has zero unemployment and a growing population. It produces its own energy from renewable sources (RES), and it owns a wind park (ensuring annual fixed income). It has a standard technological animal slaughterhouse and livestock infrastructure protecting the approximately 25 thousand animals from winters, when Anavra is blocked by snowstorms. Also there is an environmental and cultural Park of 80 acres, with natural water sources, ancient trees, bridges, watermills and “mantania”, a construction for the treatment and cleaning of fabrics with the help of water.

Zagorochoria – Epirus

Εpirus, also known as the “land of many stone bridges”, is made up of the prefectures of Arta, Thesprotia, Ioannina (where Zagoro-choria are) and Preveza and occupies the northwestern part of the Greek mainland. A vast open-air folklore museum replete with magnificent stone bridges, traditional settlements, works created throughout the ages by the hands of man which blend harmoniously with those created by nature itself: majestic landscapes, craggy mountains and gorges, the meeting place of three important rivers, breathtaking coastlines looking out onto the horizon. The diversity in its climate, in combination with the significant differences in altitude from area to area and the soil’s variability, all come together to create the perfect conditions for the development of a rich, indeed often rare, local flora and fauna. This gives the visitor the opportunity to see uncommon native plants such as the buttonball, the crocus and the beautiful red lily, as well as to admire unique animal species including the brown bear, otter, wolf, wild goat, deer and wild cat. Also tourists can visit the legendary valley of Valia Kalda, Arkoudorema, Lyngos, Mavrovouni and the historical Tzoumerka.

Thrace – East Macedonia

Located on the northeastern edge of Greece, the region encompasses three prefectures on Thrace and two on Eastern Macedonia. Bestowed with the most hydro-biotopes in Greece protected by the European Union, offers sanctuary to rare and protected bird species. The region’s southern Aegean coastline is dotted with vast sweeps of crystal-clear sandy beaches, as well as with rare rocky coves. The area’s rich flora and fauna includes the majority of the plant and animal species on Greek soil. Vistonida Lake, the Delta of Evros and Nestos Rivers, the Dadia Forest, the Mitrikos Lake, are all areas where one can meet species tending to extinct worldwide.

Crete

Lying at the point where the continents of Europe, Asia and Africa meet, Crete is the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean. Crete is home to a rich variety of flora that contains over a hundred species of wild flowers and herbs, unique to the island. Equally as varied as the flora, the Cretan fauna includes the unique Cretan wild goat, the “agrimi” or “kri-kri”, found on the Lefka Mountains, as well as a wide variety of mammals, lizards, snakes and an extensive bird-life. The City of Heraklion, Crete, promotes green tourism and implements green tactics in the tourism sector under the European program “The Intelligent Energy Europe” aiming to increase energy efficient tourism movements on the island.

*sources / more places to see :  alternativegreece.gr, ecotourism.org, ecozante.gr, greentravelguides.org

Bicycle: in fashion-in action

Only a few Greeks used to have bicycles for more than a bike ride for pleasure. However, in recent years more and more realize that bikes can be a tool that will improve our every day lives, a vehicle that responds to problems created by the cars in the city, providing a convenient private transport solution. It is the vehicle of a new attitude. Especially in short distances it ιhas incomparable advantages over the other means of transportation.We can do more by bicycle as well: we can get a trip to discover places. Even if we have already been there by car, we will get the chance to (re) discover everything in a more authentic way. This, of course, requires some – not very big- experience, a safe-not necessarily- expensive equipment and the appropriate mood to go to the countryside. There is a reason to help the bicycles to discover a new golden age

the good example:

Corfu is the first place in Greece to have the bicycle renting system, using 100% Greek technology. It comprises specially manufactured bikes, automatic renting stations; bike-locking parking bases where people can borrow and return bikes, and bike management software for the programme’s remote control. Bikes are made in Greece by Ideal Bikes and, to rent them, a special citizen’s card is required (for local people) or just a credit card if you are visitor or tourist!

future plans:

About 6,500 bicycles is expected to be spread out by the Ministry of Health to parks and little groves of Attica and Thessaloniki. According to the official announcement of the related Ministry within the next days a  competition call for the supply of these bikes will be held. The responsible Deputy Minister Mr.Christos Aedonis has stated that “our goal is to install bikes ready to be used in parks and groves of Attica within the year or the most the begining  of 2012”.It is expected bicycles to be bought and installed in Pedion of Areos (approximately 200 bikes), in Attikon Park (mountain bikes),in the Veikou Park and in Goudi (where most of the city bikes will be).

Panepistemiou Street is going to be only for pedestrians!

What is going to change in the city center? This traffic regulation provides the movement of cars from Sungrou Ave to the north through Vas. Konstantinou Ave., while Pireos str. will end up to Omonoia square. Separate body headed by the TRAM S.A. will undertake the implementation of the big project which is expected  to be carried out by 2014. This project, of 180 million euros budget, provides of setting up a linear square of 40m width from Syntagma square to Omonoia square, which will only  be interrupted by Amerikis and Emm.Benakis streets.

events:

Critical Mass Ride (CMR): “The critical  mass” claims its own space on the road in a lot of Greek cities. (info: criticalmass.gr).

Freeday: Every Friday, the big ride around the city of Athens. Meeting point: Thesseio  at 21:30.(info: podilates.gr).

Peristeropetalies: Every Wednesday, Municipality of Peristeri’s grove (entrance of St Vassileiou str), at 20:30.(info: peristerofolies.eu/site/).

Podilates Alsoupolis: Every Wednesday, Olympic Stadium, at 18:00 (info: podilatesalsoupolis.blogspot.com).

Halbike: Every Wednesday, at suburban’s station of Pentelis Ave. at 20:15. (info:halbike.wordpress.com).

routes:

Plastira Lake: in the shadow of Agrafa Mountains.Close to Karditsa, Thessalia, at the foot of Agrafa mountains there is one of the most popular mountain destinations, the Plastira lake and its famous bike route.

Assopos river: route parallel to the canal. Among the Thiva area and the Northern Mountains of Attika there is a beautiful valley crossed by the river Assopos. Be careful of the canal.

Varempompi: the ideal start.Only a few miles out of Athens, at the foot of Parnitha mountain there is an area, a paradise for mountain bikes.

Mountains of Arkadia (Peloponessos): Climbing the villages of Mainalo mountain.It is close to Athens,only two hours drive, but you can find in Mainalo’s villages all these they can get you out the city ‘s problems.

*additional information, and more routes on: podilatesmag.gr

Desertec: future is near by

“Within 6 hours deserts receive more energy from the sun than humankind consumes within a year.” Dr. Gerhard Knies, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the DESERTEC Foundation.

Over 6,5 billion people consume more natural resources and produce more pollution than the Earth can accommodate. If we do not change our behavior drastically and stop the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere, we will face disastrous consequences.

At a Glance

Desertec project aims to harness the largest source of energy on earth: desert’s solar energy.

Over 90% of the world’s population live within 3000 km of a desert and may receive clean energy from there. Desertec offers an integrated solution to global problems: climate change and water, food and energy shortage. All the necessary technologies are proven and can be applied directly or forthwith.

The Desertec Concept

The Desertec Concept was developed in 2003 by the German Club of Rome and a network of experts around the Mediterranean, called TREC (Trans- Mediterranean Renewable Energy Cooperation). Between 2004 and 2007 the German Aerospace Center (DLR) confirmed its feasibility.

The Desertec Foundation

The Desertec Foundation was founded in 2008 by persons with vision (incl. members of TREC and His Royal Highness Prince Hassan Bin Talal of Jordan) to coordinate the activities of the Desertec networks and to create alliances to implement Desertec concept worldwide.

The Industrial Initiative (Dii GmbH)

The founders of Desertec Foundation established in October 30, 2009 the “DIIGmbh” company based in Munich. (founding members: Desertec Foundation and 12 companies from different countries, whose aim is to implement this project in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa (EUMENA). Paul Van Son is the CEO of the Dii, ex-Managing Director of Econcern (Netherlands) and Deutsche Essent (Germany), companies experienced in the development and implementation of renewable energy sources projects and energy efficiency programs.

He is also Chairman of the European Federation of  Energy Traders (EFET) and of Energy4all Foundation, which is active in Africa.

Dii’s Ambassador is Prof Klaus Topfer. He will advise the DESERTEC industrial initiative on strategic issues. His activities will focus on political and social questions.

Desertec Foundation & Dii working together

The Desertec Foundation supports Dii with its networks, know-how and standards represented by Desertec trademark. It is a link between industrial partners in the Dii and other Non Profit Organizations (N.P.O.), such as the Club of Rome and Greenpeace.

Future Plans

Up to 2012 the Dii will concentrate on the speedy implementation of the Desertec Concept in EUMENA and will start further initiatives in other regions (e.g. in the USA, India, China and Australia) to achieve its mission “Clean Power from deserts for a world of 10 billion people”. In cooperation with universities, scientific institutes and other partners, the DESERTEC Foundation will carry out studies on how the DESERTEC Concept may be applied in several different regions around the world.  

The New Law for RES

Following a long period of consultation and processing, the new law (Law 3851) concerning RES (Renewable Energy Sources) was established on June 4, 2010. “green issue” quotes the main changes set into effect.

PRINCIPAL ADJUSTMENTS OF THE NEW LAW ON RES

1. Definition of a national binding objective of RES’ 20% participation in the coverage of total energy consumption for 2020 (instead of 18% as provisioned by Directive 28/2009). Definition of a respective national target of 40%, as a minimum, for RES participation in the coverage of electric energy consumption for 2020

2. It is defined that climate protection through the forwarding of power production using RES constitutes an environmental and energy priority of utmost importance for the country. This is considered as definitive in the cases of offsetting against other environmental or social parameters

3. The simplification/rationalization of the procedure related to the issuance of a RES production licence, which resumes the character it had prior to Law 3468/06, as a primary enforceable license for the project’s objective. The production license shall now refer to the technical-financial sufficiency of the specific RES project and it is detached from the environmental licensing procedure, which follows at a later stage. The production license is issued by the Regulatory Authority for Energy (RAE) and not by the (former) Ministry of Development, as was the case up till now. As a result, this leads to the dramatic limitation of the duration of the relevant licensing process to just two (2) months. The RES facilities which are defined as per the applicable legislation as non-disturbing or of low disturbance level activities, are exempted from the obligation to issue a production license or any other acknowledgment decision, therefore thousands of small-medium investments are now accelerated.

4. The Preliminary Environmental Assessment and Evaluation (PEAE) and Environmental Terms Approval (ETA) procedures are now merged in a uniform procedure as in other European countries. Following the issuance of a RES production license, the folder and the Environmental Effects Study (EES) are submitted by the interested party to the Authority responsible for the environmental licensing. The said authority proceeds promptly to conducting an Environmental Assessment and Evaluation (EAE). The expert opinions provisioned by the law during the environmental licensing of RES projects are strictly limited to the issues subject to the authority of each service. This is providing such expert opinions comply with the layout terms and conditions provisioned by the Special Layout Planning and Sustained Development Framework for Renewable Energy Sources, as in effect depending on the case. The deadlines defined as per the applicable provisions for the submission of the expert opinions are defined, in their totality, as exclusive. The issuance of a production license, when necessary, is a precondition for the submission by the interested party of an application to the relevant Operator for the provision of a Connection Offer. The provision of the Connection Offer which is final and binding to the Operator is performed following the issuance of the ETA decision. Following the provision of a Connection Offer and the issuance of the respective ETA, the interested party has the right: a) to apply for the issuance of a facility license, b) to apply for the signature of the Connection Agreement and the Sale Agreement (which may be signed earlier but come into effect following the provision of an installation license), c) to apply for the issuance of the licenses, protocols or other approvals required by the forests and city planning legislation, which are issued without requirement for the prior issuance of the installation license.

5. A significant part (50%) of the special RES producer fee attributed to the Regional Self-Administration Authorities is provided directly to household consumers within the municipal or communal region of such Regional Self-Administration Authorities, in which the RES project is installed. This takes place through the power bills (that is the credit to the PPC, i.e., a specific percentage of the profit against the special fee charged and then the crediting of such income by the PPC to the household consumer’s respective bills in the relevant area). The remaining percentage of the income from the said special fee is paid to the respective Regional Self-Administration Authority to be used as defined by the law.

6. The modification, improvement and completion of the Special RES Layout Framework (Joint Ministerial Decision 49828/2008), as well as of the relevant legislative framework. The main objective here is to clarify critical regulations and to provide direct and effective implementation, in order to materially contribute to the disengagement of a great number of RES projects in progress which are currently in licensing hibernation. There are four (4) main points of legislative intervention.

7. Within the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climatic Change, the establishment of an Autonomous Special Service for RES Investments Processing which follows the “one-stop shop” model. The mission of this Service, which functions at a Directorate level and is directly subordinate to the Minister of Environment, Energy and Climatic Change, is to provide information and the coordinated conduction of investors’ requests interested in materializing investments in the production of power using RES.