Greenovate Awards 2021: announcing the winners

Published on: 30/11/2021

University of Cape Town has once again triumphed to take both top spots in Greenovate Awards 2021 that encourage, enable and reward innovative solutions for a more sustainable built environment.

Cutting pollution by adding chicken manure to cement, transforming empty office buildings into indoor urban farms, improving 3D printed concrete construction, and swapping sand in concrete with recycled plastic waste. These are some of the sustainability ideas explored by local university students in the annual Growthpoint Properties  and Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) Greenovate Awards.

University of Cape Town (UCT) triumphed in the engineering category – which incorporates electrical, computer and electronic, civil, and mechanical engineering. The second and third place winners were North West University and Stellenbosch University respectively.

The property category – which includes quantity surveying, construction management, and property studies – was also won by UCT. University of the Witwatersrand took second place and UCT also came in third position.

The winners were announced at a gala dinner held at Africa’s tallest building, The Leonardo Hotel, in Sandton Central, South Africa’s business capital, which also happens to have the highest concentration of certified green buildings in Africa.

The Greenovate Awards have been active since 2015 with the goal of seeding an early passion for sustainable development in university students by focusing on challenges and opportunities within the property industry. The programme also showcases up-and-coming talent – the future leaders of the built industry. The result: a growing community of advocates for green building with a passion for creating a better world and a brighter, greener future.

In 2021, 22 students from five universities – University of the Witwatersrand, University of Pretoria, University of Cape Town, North West University and Stellenbosch University – entered the awards. The students researched current issues, came up with unique solution to real-life problems, and presented their ideas to industry decision-makers.

After the pandemic forced the programme online last year, the trail-blazing awards returned safely to the original (but suitably socially distanced) face-to-face format this year to optimise its mentorship and collaborative advantages. In preparation for the awards, students are given the opportunity, expertise and resources to develop their research into a real and workable product or service for the property industry. The awards’ mentorship programme and workshops with industry experts are also designed to benefit the students immensely. The young talent is exposed to the very latest in sustainability thinking and ideas, and they enjoy direct access to leading sustainability and property companies, which creates a springboard to launch their future careers. During this process they also create lasting networks and partnerships.

“This year’s forward-thinking projects really impressed the judges,” says Grahame Cruickshanks, Growthpoint’s head of sustainability and utilities. “Big ideas come out of our tertiary education institutions that deserve private sector support. Growthpoint has already implemented one Greenovate solution commercially, and we are hungry to put more into practice. Growthpoint has undertaken to have all if its 400-plus buildings in South Africa operating at carbon net-zero by 2050 – and action and innovation is needed now if we are to get there. We are proud to be drivers of the Greenovate Awards, and if the quality and creativity of this year’s entries are anything to go by, there is a promising future for green building that is in very capable hands indeed.”

Co-founder of the competition, the GBCSA, is entirely dedicated to shaping a green future and a built environment in which people and planet thrive. As an industry leader that is well-recognised for innovation, it was important for Growthpoint to partner with the GBCSA and develop and encourage young talent through Greenovate. These special awards which are growing the green talent pool for Growthpoint, but also for the green building movement and the benefit of SA Inc.

“The genuine passion for a higher cause shared by all the students participating in the awards, and nurtured by their universities, was clearly demonstrated in the cutting-edge thinking about building and operating our cities, towns, neighbourhoods and buildings in more environmentally sustainable ways. The GBCSA is proud to spark ‘greenovation’ at South African universities and shape a better future,” says Georgina Smit, Head of Technical at the GBCSA.

This year’s awards’ sponsors include Terra Firma Solutions, Solareff and RMS Remote Metering Solutions. Prize money of R30 000 is awarded to the winning student/s in each category, while the runner-up receives R15 000, and the third place takes home R10 000. All winners also receive tickets to attend the GBCSA convention, where the top team in each category will present their projects on the innovation stage. Continuing to promote sustainable thinking and learning, the three top participants for each stream also win entry to a nationally-recognised GBCSA Accredited Professional (AP) Candidate Course.

Making a name for themselves as innovators, change-makers and plant-shapers, the winners of the 2021 Greenovate Student Awards are:


First: Tristan Fernandes – University of Cape Town: “A Life Cycle Cost Analysis of Developing High-rise Sustainable, Innovative, Affordable Housing in South Africa”.

Second: Aasif Mohamed, Asemahle Mngxuma and Sacha Harper – University of the Witwatersrand: “Experimental process of introducing chicken manure as an additive in Portland Cement to decrease pollution and increase thermal insulation as well as other properties of a concrete mix.

Third: Barret de Willers – University of Cape Town: “Investigating the adoption of green building features, initiatives, and technology in commercial buildings”.



First: Karabo Makole – University of Cape Town: “Manufacturing tiles from copper mine tailings using geopolymerization”.

Second: Andrea Fiorita – North West University: “Industrial LED Fixture”.

Third: Nina Sirba – Stellenbosch University: “Mechanical and durability properties of concrete containing recycled plastic waste (resin8 and pet) as a sand replacement”.