10 years ECOWEEK: Changing habits, changing climate - Interview with President Elias Messina

Α Decrease font Enlarge font
10 years ECOWEEK: Changing habits, changing climate - Interview with President Elias MessinaFrom Aegina to Copenhagen and from Agios Nikolaos to Singapore: Interview by Elias Messina founding chairman of NGO ECOWEEK

Elias Messina is an architect and environmental consultant. Elias teaches architecture and design for over 25 years. He is a graduate of Athens College and Bezalel Academy with a Master from Yale University. He completed his PhD at NTUA. In 2005, after attending a Master interdisciplinary program at NTUA on ‘Environment and Development’ with Prof. Dimitris Rokos, he founded NGO ECOWEEK in Aegina. Since then he coordinates its activity.

NGO ECOWEEK was born in Aegina, but made its presence felt when it invited Al Gore to the Athens Concert Hall. Today, what is the activity of ECOWEEK?

ECOWEEK is a non-profit organization with the mission to raise environmental awareness and to promote the principles of sustainability. Its main activity is to organize international conferences and sustainable design workshops in Greece and abroad, in order to inform, educate and bring sustainable design and green buildings closer to young architects, engineers, designers, architects, landscape and mainly to students.

In the first 10 years of activity ECOWEEK has spread its activity in more than 15 countries in Europe, Middle East, Asia and Australia. For 2017 we intend to expand our activity to the United States and Africa. The ECOWEEK members network spreads today in 54 countries.

ECOWEEK started its activity in 2005 as a week for ecological awareness in Aegina. Then we developed environmental awareness programs in public and private schools and for the general public throughout Greece and in 2007 we invited Al Gore to give his famous slide show on Climate Change at the Athens Concert Hall. Later on, we assisted the Larnaca Municipality to organize an ecology week and then we organized our first sustainable design workshops in Italy, Serbia, Poland, Turkey and Kosovo, reaching as far as Copenhagen and London. Last year we helped organize a design contest for young designers in China and participated in an ecological festival in Australia. Next year we plan sustainable design workshops from the Netherlands and Sweden to distant Singapore.

In recent years we held conferences and workshops in Athens and Thessaloniki, and this year we are planning for the first time, an ecological week in Agios Nikolaos in Crete. ECOWEEK 2016 in Crete takes place on July 3-10 in cooperation with the G & A Mamidakis Foundation, the Bluegr Hotels & Resorts group and the municipality of Agios Nikolaos. We expect that ECOWEEK in Crete will be the environmental happening of the summer. It was already included in the partner events of the Green Week 2016 organized by the European Commission, and it is already communicated across Europe.

Tell us briefly what is ECOWEEK?

The idea of ECOWEEK was conceived in 2005 in Aegina, as an ecological festival, hence the name “Eco” (ecological) “Week”, which was open to the general public. The festival focused on three main topics: energy saving and renewable energy, recycling and composting and green buildings. Since 2008 the idea of ECOWEEK evolved into a week dedicated to sustainable design and green buildings, with lectures and workshops, that also address issues of energy and waste. During the last 10 years, ECOWEEK has invited international experts in the field, such as Shigeru Ban, Kengo Kuma, BIG, Michael Sorkin, and others, while the main beneficiaries are students of architecture, design and landscape architecture and young professionals in these areas.

Why ecological building?

Architecture and construction have great responsibility (and potential) with regard to sustainability. Buildings consume 40% of produced energy and a significant proportion of raw materials - wood, minerals and water. Also, buildings and cities determine and influence the behavior, health and happiness of people. For example, if you work close to where you live or you must commute daily, with all that this implies for the local community and environmental impact. Changing the way we design and build our buildings and our cities, as half the world population now live in cities, we can intervene effectively in our ecological footprint and therefore manage to live within local conditions and the resources of the planet (One Planet Living)

The way we design is also of great interest. In sustainable design architect works as part of a team. Not in a top-down format. Sustainable design opens cooperation opportunities, participatory planning and placemaking. So that the project beneficiaries – the community - are also part of the creative process. This changes the design experience as it has been experienced so far, not only by offering large scale solutions, but also 'LQC' ie, 'lighter, quicker and cheaper'. This way, interventions can be more focused and more relevant to the actual needs of the community.

The principles of sustainable design, the understanding of local needs to develop sustainable solutions, and the interactive procedure in the design, are key components to the ECOWEEK workshops. This year ECOWEEK, in collaboration with Bioregional based in the UK, promotes the One Planet Living principles through sustainable design workshops, to create proposals for green buildings and sustainable communities.

What activities are planned in ECOWEEK 2016 in Crete?

ECOWEEK 2016 in Crete focuses on "Public Space, Tourism and One Planet" and will develop sustainable solutions at various scales and programmatic needs. The topics and workshop locations, as in previous ECOWEEK events, are chosen carefully in collaboration with the workshop leaders, the Municipality team of Agios Nikolaos and the local community, and the co-organizers G & A Mamidakis Foundation and Bluegr Hotels & Resorts group. 

Among the projects that we will be addressing in Agios Nikolaos are the redesign of the waterfront (a project of interest to the Municipality to receive ideas to be adopted later on), which will led by Canadian architect Chris Doray; interventions in parks (such as City Hall Park) to be led by the Orizzontale team from Italy; interventions in schools (environmentally responsive facades) and hands-on interventions with light structures, with the participation of students, parents and teachers, will be undertaken by EUZEN Architecture team from Thessaloniki and landscape architect Galia Hanoch Roe from Israel respectively. The Chania University team will perform measurements and propose interventions in various parts of the city, and two workshops - LIMNI and Natural Building of Creta) - will demonstrate pilot construction using ecological materials - stone, straw and clay - and traditional construction methods used in Crete.

The workshops will be supported with lectures by experts from Greece and abroad - Canada, Italy, England, Israel and Turkey; for example, Benjamin Gill of Bioregional will support the workshops with the 10 principles of One Planet Living. In addition, film screenings such as "The Human Scale", in cooperation with the Danish Embassy, inspired by the work of the Danish planner Jan Gehl and the movie "The Secret Life of Materials" on nanotechnology applications in design, in collaboration with the Demokritos Research Institute team.

The program is full and diverse and is open not only to students and young professionals, but also to the general public as well. We invite everyone, experts or not, to join us!

Where would one find more information and how to participate? At the conference website is http://www.ecoweekcrete2016.org/ 

Participation in lectures and events is open and free to the general public. Workshops require registration. With participants from Greece, USA, Italy, Turkey, Albania and Kosovo, we expect a diverse team and excellent opportunity for young people to learn from each other and to network.

 

 
 
Pictures from past events of ECOWEEK worldwide (Courtesy of ECOWEEK)
 
 
Agios Nikolaos (Courtesy of Municipality of Agios Nikolaos)

Tornos
  1. 30/05 01:43

    What’s new at the New Orlean’s Greek Festival 2017

  2. 30/05 01:41

    New Marc poll shows Greek main opposition leading by a 14.5% margin

  3. 30/05 01:36

    Second Annual Timarete Hellenic Art Festival opens in NYC on June 1

  4. 30/05 01:34

    Greek Deputy Foreign Minister begins visit to Australia

  5. 30/05 01:32

    Greek developer Energean signs first deal for Israeli gas supply

  6. 30/05 01:30

    Draghi: ECB is waiting for measures that will make Greek debt sustainable

  7. 30/05 00:57

    4th Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum: Greece eyes maritime investment potential

  8. 30/05 00:43

    15 hotel projects to gain traction in Greece during coming months

  9. 29/05 23:25

    Travel guide: The highlights of Mytilene town on Lesvos island

  10. 29/05 21:21

    More than 50,000 people take part in 41st Paniyiri Greek Festival

  11. 29/05 19:18

    United States considering laptop ban on all international flights

  12. 29/05 19:16

    Report: Greek techy part of Google Japan Team improving maps application

  13. 29/05 17:12

    Funeral service for Constantine Mitsotakis to be held on May 31 in Athens

  14. 29/05 15:11

    Tilos island in Greece in finalists for EU Sustainable Energy Award

  15. 29/05 14:52

    EU clears Benin, Mozambique from Air Safety List and adds four airlines

  16. 29/05 14:05

    1,000-year-old Persian cup found in remote region of Arctic Russia

  17. 29/05 13:02

    Former Greek Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis dies at 98

  18. 29/05 12:48

    4th Cretan World Music Festival Opens on July 19 (video)

  19. 29/05 11:38

    Greek directors win Best Screenplay for 'The Killing of a Sacred Deer' in Cannes

  20. 29/05 00:25

    Significant finds from underwater excavation on Delos island in Greece

  21. 27/05 21:43

    New Pulse poll shows Greek opposition leading by 13% margin vs. 12% in April

  22. 27/05 21:39

    Scot on holiday in Greece captures huge whirlpool off Corfu coast

  23. 27/05 21:32

    Egyptian FM optimistic over agreement on EEZ with Greece

  24. 27/05 21:29

    Report: Thessaloniki is presenting great investment opportunities

  25. 27/05 21:24

    Greek architecture company designs world’s first U-Shaped skyscraper for New York City

  26. 27/05 20:03

    BBSF forum: Tourism as a tool for regional cooperation and development session

  27. 27/05 16:36

    EU VP: 'Greece delivering' on its commitments so deal by June 15 within reach

  28. 27/05 14:34

    New rail strike means no trains from Tuesday, including to Athens airport

  29. 27/05 11:10

    Opening on Thursday for Wyndham's two new "hotel gems" in Loutraki

  30. 27/05 10:55

    British Airways cancels all Saturday Heathrow and Gatwick flights due to IT system failure

  31. 26/05 20:46

    Scientists: Unique gene protects heart of Mylopotamos residents in Crete

  32. 26/05 20:40

    Greek team conquers Mount Everest for first time after 13 years

  33. 26/05 20:35

    Floriculture investment with geothermal field to be inaugurated on Saturday

  34. 26/05 20:32

    The Bridge Experience in Rio, Greece: A sports event that eliminates distances

  35. 26/05 20:28

    Paleontologists meet at Natural History Museum of Lesvos Petrified Forest in Greece

  36. 26/05 20:04

    Attack against coach in Egypt claims lives of 26 Coptic Christians

  37. 26/05 18:37

    Greece’s wealthiest man celebrates birthday on yacht in Chania, Crete

  38. 26/05 15:27

    New Book Highlights the Architectural Marvel of SNFCC in Athens

  39. 26/05 15:21

    Bangladeshi government takes statue of Greek goddess Themis down

  40. 26/05 14:19

    Greece aiming for 500,000-plus Chinese tourists during next two years

  41. 26/05 12:15

    Traffic diversions in Athens due to night race on Sunday, May 28

  42. 26/05 11:13

    Stolen ancient Greek statue found and two men arrested

  43. 26/05 10:06

    More choices than you can possibly handle on Cyclades islands in Greece

  44. 26/05 01:57

    Economy Minister: Major growth potential of Greece's healthcare system

  45. 26/05 01:53

    ESM confidential document reveals three scenarios for Greek debt

  46. 26/05 01:50

    2017 Los Angeles Greek Film Festival lineup announced

  47. 26/05 01:47

    Campaign to inform Elliniko camp residents about transfer to other spots begins

  48. 26/05 01:42

    Report: Greece trailing in Foreign Direct Investments despite rise

  49. 26/05 01:39

    The quiet Aegean retreat of Lemnos island in Greece

  50. 26/05 01:36

    BBSF session: Boosting the digital economy in the Balkans and Black Sea region

  51. 26/05 01:33

    Cosco eyes coordination with Greek ports for improved cruise ship promotion

  52. 26/05 01:30

    The digital Project Athensreport by Anna Lascari asks for support

  53. 26/05 01:26

    Eros Ramazzotti to join Antonis Remos for annual Mykonos Party in July

  54. 26/05 01:24

    Minister: Operation of mosque in Athens among Greek government's commitments

  55. 26/05 01:20

    US Marines follow footsteps of Leonidas to Thermopylae (video)

  56. 26/05 01:06

    Greece to expand Golden Visa program with buying permits for €250,000 assets

  57. 26/05 00:46

    “Divine Dialogues: Cy Twombly and Greek at Athens Museum of Cycladic Art

  58. 26/05 00:40

    US Appeals Court deals blow to Trump Administration Travel Ban

  59. 26/05 00:29

    Bank of Greece: 87.5% of travel receipts in 2016 came from five regions

  60. 25/05 22:00

    Start-ups try to revolutionize the French wine sector

  61. 25/05 20:57

    Greek Tourism Minister pushes sea development investments at Posidonia

  62. 25/05 18:53

    Greek shipowner Alexandros Goulandris passed away

  63. 25/05 17:13

    Former Greek PM Papademos treated for minor injuries from letter bomb

  64. 25/05 16:50

    United Airlines launches direct flights from Athens to New York for summer 2017

  65. 25/05 14:48

    A walk in the Byzantine museum’s gardens in Athens

  66. 25/05 13:43

    International theater performances at the Athens and Epidaurus Festival 2017

  67. 25/05 12:24

    Yoga, concerts and childrens' events at Athens National Garden in June

  68. 25/05 11:22

    Spiegel: 3 million Germans to visit Greece for summer 2017

  69. 25/05 10:17

    Art Athina exhibition 2017 opens at Tae Kwon Do stadium in Paleo Faliro

  70. 25/05 02:36

    Ten Greek businessmen in Montreal awarded DEKA recognition

  71. 25/05 02:32

    Skift report: Airbnb’s latest role is destination marketing for Sweden

  72. 25/05 02:31

    Handelsblatt: Schaeuble and IMF move toward compromise on Greek Debt relief

  73. 25/05 02:29

    New evidence: Humans started off in Greece not Africa

  74. 25/05 02:07

    Moody's China downgrade for first time since 1989 rattles Asian markets

  75. 25/05 01:50

    Grand-daughter of legendary Eleni advertises Greece all over the world

  76. 25/05 00:24

    ’Open Cellar Doors’ event takes place at Wine Roads of Greece

  77. 24/05 23:21

    4 million German cruise passengers projected by 2027

  78. 24/05 22:19

    Conference on hydrocarbons to take place in Athens on June 8-9

  79. 24/05 20:17

    Property prices in Cyprus increase significantly according to RICS data

  80. 24/05 18:15

    Greek budget posts 1.726 bln€ primary surplus over January-April period

  81. 24/05 16:11

    Study shows sluggish growth in hotel beds despite increased arrivals in Greece

  82. 24/05 15:05

    Attica region invites public to visit documenta14 exhibition on May 26 for free

  83. 24/05 15:04

    Building of mosque in Athens approved in parliamentary committee

  84. 24/05 14:02

    SNF launches Sustainability Study for historic St. Demetrios donation

  85. 24/05 13:59

    Piraeus Port Authority €294 million investment plans tabled at 4th Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum

  86. 24/05 12:44

    Small Greek firms impress with donkey milk, olive oil soap, Canal Dive craft beer

  87. 24/05 11:42

    Greek Civil Aviation Authority to hold tender on new DPS/ATM and VCRS systems

  88. 24/05 10:38

    Travel tips: 5 reasons to visit Folegandros island in Greece

  89. 24/05 01:35

    Sea Days 2017: A panorama of events in the port of Piraeus

  90. 24/05 00:31

    U.S. Commerce Secretary backs Greek-American bid for Ethniki Asfalistiki

  91. 24/05 00:20

    Greek Tourism Minister plans to create new legal framework for industry

  92. 24/05 00:18

    Energy giants to bid for hydrocarbon exploration in Greek maritime area

  93. 24/05 00:16

    Cyprus President: Real estate sector shows dynamic growth

  94. 24/05 00:14

    Greek State power corporation shareholders OK sale of 25% stake in grid operator

  95. 24/05 00:09

    Greek Metsovio Polytechnic celebrates 180-year anniversary in Athens

  96. 24/05 00:08

    Greeks shipowners add 90 million tons to fleet during last 7 years

  97. 24/05 00:06

    German Finance Minister expresses optimism over Greek bailout deal in June

  98. 24/05 00:03

    Minister at Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum: Greece is open for cruise industry business

  99. 23/05 23:58

    UK Foreign Travel Advisory issued over strikes in Greece

  100. 23/05 23:55

    Nearly all of Cyprus bathing sites marked as excellent quality water by the EU