The Green Aegean

24, June 2008 § Leave a comment

Article from the Paros Life, June 2008-

by Anna Angelidou
“An idea whose time has come” is how John Pack, the director of the Aegean Centre for the Fine Arts described his decision to switch to alternative energy sources. In Paros we are blessed with surplus wind and sun and it is a waste of these resources not to make good use of them. John’s plan is to start small scale, much like his renovation of the beautiful neo-classical building in which the Centre is housed.

“All our electrical needs here at the school can be supported 100% by wind and solar, which is our final objective; to be totally off the grid. We have, as a first step, switched to low energy bulbs and you can already see the difference. From 2000 watts, we went to 150 watts, simply by changing a couple of light bulbs. Anyone can do that, and everyone should. The savings are amazing. We hope that we will be a positive example of how even small initiatives can make a difference on Paros, and hopefully inspire others to follow suit. The centre will always be open to anyone who wants to come in and ask us how we did it. All my information will be available for reference to anyone who needs it.

“But going green is not affordable by any means, there is a formidable cost involved and so far, in Greece, the switch for small businesses is close to impossible without help from the EU. It’s such a small scale here but the big problem is the money. I would do it in a heartbeat if I had all the funding, but finding that funding is tough. We are not eligible for EU grants because we are a U.S. non-profit organization and at the present time there are no programmes from the local municipality to provide financial support for these initiatives. One other avenue of funding is through sponsors – many corporations and multinationals have taken their social responsibility very seriously and are including such activities in their annual budgets. It improves their global image with consumers and drastically ‘lightens’ the weight of their carbon footprint on the planet. So this is definitely an option that we will be looking into. By next year we have high hopes of being well on our way to being green.”

It is clear that investing in alternative forms of energy is smart as well as environmentally and socially friendly. Yes, the initial investment can be considerable, but the long term advantages allow you to win back a large part, and maybe even all of your investment. The prospective investor can consider options such as selling some of the energy he produces back to the electrical company so that instead of paying DEH, you’re the one sending the bill! That in itself is a highly satisfying thought! But the biggest satisfaction is the fact that we will be making a conscious effort to save our environment on a personal level. The best way to lead is by example. You have to walk your

talk. Sooner or later we are going to have to catch up to the rest of Europe. Germany is without a doubt the European champion when it comes to energy conservation and sustainable development – they are converting whole cities to solar and wind energy when we are still passing out low-watt light bulbs. The biggest hindrance to the implementation of alternative forms of energy in Greece is cost, and close behind is lack of information. More incentives are needed from national and local government, but that is no excuse for us not to take action. Sometimes the grass-roots movement is much more effective. It is time to get the message out and voice our demands from the government to provide more information, support and financial backing. We are asking for a viable future and this is definitely something to get passionate about. We salute and support the Aegean Center in this endeavour.

For further information or to learn more about sponsoring the Aegean Center’s project to go green, contact John Pack at the Aegean Center for the Fine Arts. Tel: 22840-23287 or see www. aegeancenter.org

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