Athens is now home to an increasing number of sustainable schools thanks to a public-private partnership (PPP) initiative.
Cutting edge bio-climatic architecture technologies, which includes green roofs and harvested rainwater, to floating stairs and insulated floors, have been introduced to 24 school buildings across the capital.
One of the schools, the 2nd Elementary School of Kallithea located in Pendeli, opened last September. Along with sound absorbing floors, toilets have automatic lighting and doors are fitted with mechanisms which ensure fingers don’t get caught.
School principal, Nikitas Tsirigos says they are already seeing benefits.
“It only costs €30 to run our nurse’s station because the school is built in such a way that it minimises accidents and children catching colds,” he told Kathimerini, though noted that it took some adjusting.
“The contractor called me one day to tell me a teacher had opened a window and the temperature had dropped to 19 degrees Celsius.
“When I advised her to close it, she started looking around for a hidden camera.”
The investment cost a total of €110 million and has seen new life breathed into older buildings around Attica, giving students and teachers a more pleasant and modern teaching environment.
The initiative, which is also seen to have added benefit in boosting property values, has resulted in a number of parents expressing interest in transferring their children from the private to the public sector.
PPPs were initially faced with scepticism by ministry staff in 2007, however the initiative has since been named a Project Finance Deal of the Year by World Finance magazine.
The cost is not included as part of Greece’s national debt, with the contractor paid by the state over 25 years.
“All children can study at schools like these as long as we make use of the various European funding programs, such as the [Jean-Claude] Juncker package,” said deputy head of the European Commission Representation in Greece, Argyris Peroulakis.