27 OCTOBER 2016 / The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) Earns the Prestigious Platinum Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the organization that has developed the leading international certification system for green buildings, has announced that the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) has received a Platinum level LEED certification, the highest possible rating for environmentally conscious and sustainable buildings.

The SNFCC, designed by the Renzo Piano Building Workshop, is a project that includes the construction and complete outfitting of new facilities for the National Library of Greece and the Greek National Opera as well as the creation of the 210,000 m² Stavros Niarchos Park, located on the edge of Faliro Bay in Athens, Greece. The project was funded exclusively by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF). 

LEED certification verifies that a building was designed and constructed following rigorous principles of sustainable construction and environmentally innovative practices that focus, among other metrics, on water and energy efficiency, reduction of CO2 emissions, indoor environmental quality and the rational management of resources.

Platinum LEED certification is a unique and challenging distinction to achieve. USGBC points out that out of all green buildings certified worldwide only a small percentage has attained platinum designation. The SNFCC is the first cultural project of such scale to earn the LEED Platinum Certification in Europe and Greece. 

The commitment and determination to establish a paradigm of environmental stewardship and innovative sustainable design and building practices are manifested in all aspects of the design and construction of the project; from the Stavros Niarchos Park that also functions as a green roof, to the Canal and to the innovative, state-of-the-art photovoltaic canopy.

Natural resources, energy saving, observing the breeze, catching the sun. All those things have been in the DNA of the SNFCC in Athens right from the very beginning,” said Renzo Piano, the project’s architect. “I am pleased and honored that we have received the Platinum LEED recognition. This is the best you can have in making buildings today. This excellence joins the profound ethic of the Centre to be a place for people, for art, for culture and for environment.”

Projects gain LEED points by reaching certain performance levels in a number of different categories. The SNFCC attained a Platinum rating by earning points for: construction activity pollution prevention, site selection, development density and community connectivity, brownfield redevelopment, bicycle storage and changing rooms, low-emitting and fuel-efficient vehicles, parking capacity, protection and restoration of habitat, maximization of open space, storm-water management, heat island effect, light pollution reduction, water efficient landscaping, innovative wastewater technologies, water use reduction, fundamental commissioning of the building energy systems, optimized energy performance, on-site renewable energy, storage and collection of recyclables, construction waste management, recycled content, regional materials, certified wood, indoor environmental quality, and innovation in design.

Platinum LEED certification requires discipline and real commitment to the environment and to the importance of implementing sustainable development practices,” said Andreas Dracopoulos, Co-President of the SNF. “All of us involved in this magnificent project understood from the very beginning the importance of creating an environmentally conscious site, and sending a message by going the extra distance required to achieve Platinum certification. But sustainability is not only about green spaces, trees, or the photovoltaic canopy. Sustainability is a way of life. The ability to make the SNFCC an important part of our everyday lives remains a critical aspect of the whole project.”

One of the emblematic design features of the project is the energy roof, one of the largest in Europe, towering over the Greek National Opera building. The roof, made of photovoltaic panels, is an innovative construction and engineering achievement, contributing to the goal of drastically reducing CO2 emissions, as well as to the daily energy requirements of buildings. Furthermore, the Canal together with the Stavros Niarchos Park, create a favorable microclimate, and contribute to the flood protection not only of the SNFCC, but of the surrounding communities as well.

Using innovative practices and focusing on the structural integrity of the project were integral parts of the creation of the SNFCC, from the very beginning,” said Theodore Maravelias, Director of the SNF’s technical department. “Besides the obvious design and building achievements of the SNFCC, creating knowledge at the local level for the numerous Greek companies involved in the project and the possibility of adopting similar best practices in other future construction projects in Greece are also significant benefits of the creation of the SNFCC.”