No overall plan for lighting Greece’s towns and cities

Lighting up the night in Greece is, like so many other things, anarchic, according to Haris Kambezidis, head of the Greek Lighting Commission (EFE) which is trying to bring some order into the sector. «Today people want their cities to look better. There is special interest in the nighttime hours and nightlife, where activities differ from those during the day,» he said. The right kind of lighting can contribute to a better quality of life and economize on energy. «The right street lighting can represent energy savings of 30-40 percent,» said Kambezidis. This is no negligible amount. And an attractively lit urban landscape is attractive to tourists. «One of the most advanced cities in this respect is the French town of Lyon,» said Kambezidis. «Every December over 500,000 people visit the town for the weeklong Festival of Light, when the whole town is lit up and public buildings are lit with a variety of lights and lighting art.» Lyon has had an official lighting plan since 1989, indicating that this is not the result of any ecological awareness but a modern, multifaceted approach. «Greece is not without successful examples, such as the Rio-Antirio Bridge,» said Kambezidis. «But the main problem is that interventions are not part of any overall plan as part of an integrated study that ensures uniformity. So after walking past a beautifully lit building, one is likely to enter a blinding environment. In most cases, there is too much light, as the municipal street lighting competes with shop-front lighting. There are also cases where there is not enough light,» added Kambezidis. Despite a ministerial decree dating from 2004 bringing national legislation into line with the European Union model EN 13201-4 regarding street and sidewalk lighting, none of the provisions have been implemented. EFE even doubts whether the local government staff is aware of the existence of the EU model. Most people associate personal and road safety with bright lighting, but apparently it isn’t that simple. «Brightly lit billboards and spotlights at showroom lots that blind drivers are a major risk. On the other hand, even the best lighting, if it is not used for what it is designed for, could be wasteful and to no purpose,» explained Kambezidis. People seem to be becoming aware of this fact, however. Perhaps it is no coincidence that outdoor entertainment spaces are using lower lighting.