Greenovate Awards 2023 winners

Published on: 14/12/2023

Independent start-up Oelinga won the first-ever proptech award of the Greenovate Awards, which recognise and reward innovative, sustainable solutions by young talent in the built environment. The University of Cape Town (UCT) won the top prizes in both property and engineering categories, once again excelling at the 2023 Greenovate Awards.

Using waste materials for thermal insulation, growing bio-building materials with reused carbon dioxide and bacteria, a renewable energy planning app and energy trading platform, and evaluancy measures to reduce water scarcity impacts – these are some of the sustainability ideas explored by local university students in the annual Growthpoint Properties and Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) Greenovate Awards.

UCT won the engineering category – which incorporates electrical, computer and electronic, civil and mechanical engineering. The second-place winners were from North West University (NWU) and the University of Pretoria (UP) took third place.

The property category – which includes quantity surveying, construction management, and property studies – also saw UCT triumph in first and second places. The third place went to the University of the Witwatersrand (WitThe International Finance Corporation (IFC) Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiency (EDGE) Award was presented Mahima Maharaj of UCT for their presentation on growing bio-building materials from CO2.

The inaugural Greenovate Proptech Award winner was the independent start-up Oelinga by Songo Didiza and Zadok Olinga, which provides solutions for resource management of energy, water and carbon emissions. The second prize went to Kaizen by Rob Whiteley and the third place to Learn Base Energy by Mokete Ratlabala.

The Greenovate Award winners were announced at a gala dinner held at the Levelthree venue in Kramerville. The venue offers picturesque views of the Sandton Central skyline, an iconic South African built environment with the highest number of green certified buildings in Africa.

Since 2015, Greenovate has been inspiring university students to pursue sustainable development. Focused on property industry challenges and the opportunities they present for sustainable solutions, the programme highlights emerging talent and prepares future leaders in the property sector.
This year, 37 students from seven universities – Wits, NWU, UCT, UP, University of the Free State, Nelson Mandela University and Stellenbosch University – entered the property and engineering awards. The students researched existing challenges, proposed unique solutions to real-life problems and presented their ideas to industry decision-makers. In addition, the seven entries from the proptech category came from small businesses that are within the research and development phase.

Grahame Cruickshanks, Growthpoint’s Head of Sustainability and Utilities, comments, “Growthpoint emphasises environmental sustainability in our ESG strategy, demonstrated by our support of the Greenovate Awards. The submitted projects showcase the growing global trend towards eco-friendly buildings. Some contributions focused on adding to critical research, while others explored practical solutions. We commend the students’ resilience in delivering such high-quality presentations while managing exams and other academic responsibilities at the end of the year.”

Co-founder of the competition, the GBCSA, is entirely dedicated to shaping a green future and a built environment where people and the planet thrive. “GBCSA is proud of our Greenovate partnership with Growthpoint and delighted by the solutions developed by such bright young minds. Knowing that we are supporting the skills and opportunities of future leaders who are going to shape our future and inform South Africa’s sustainability trajectory is a source of hope and inspiration,” says Georgina Smit, GBCSA Head of Technical.

Prize money of R37,000 is awarded to the winner/s in each category, while the runner-up receives R18,500 and the third place takes home R12,500.
The Greenovate proptech category winner also receives a one-year Property Point Business Development Support programme focused on empowering the winner to grow in the ever-changing proptech market. Property Point is a proud catalyst for successful enterprise development and has been transforming the property industry since it was established in 2008. Now, it has developed a custom programme to help establish the Greenovate proptech winner as an industry leader and promote the sustainable progression of proptech solutions.

The bespoke programme will be based on a baseline assessment to determine Oelinga’s specific development needs and challenges as they navigate building a sustainable business in the South African market. It includes strategic business planning, market access, networking, training, capacity building, financial support, funding guidance, mentorship, coaching, innovation, technology integration, and monitoring and evaluation. After completing this programme, the Greenovate PropTech Award winner should have valuable insights, an expanded network, and measurable growth in market presence, revenue, and business development.

The IFC prize winner receives a laptop computer and EDGE Expert training with the GBCSA. All winners 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 from the property and engineering streams also receive a nationally recognised GBCSA Accredited Professional (AP) Candidate Course.

Participants in the Greenovate Awards receive valuable mentorship and collaboration opportunities. They gain access to knowledge and resources needed to turn their research into practical products or services for the property industry. The awards also offer mentorship programmes and expert-led workshops.

This year’s mentors for the property stream included Gert Fourie and Deelan Govender of Turner & Townsend, Marlene Senne and Iphendule Ndzipho of WSP, Cebisa Mafukuzela and Wardah Peters of Solid Green Consulting, Jutta Berns of Ecocentric, Mapula Matlakala of African Bank, and Jenni Lombard, Michal Hohlfeld and Abigail Godsell of GBCSA. Engineering stream mentors included Alex Varughese and, Craig Blankers of WSP, Mary Anne Fetcher of Zutari, Siziwe Mulidi of AMC Engineers, Makhosazana Mthethwa and Thato Molapo of Solid Green Consulting and Vere Shaba of Green Design Africa. The proptech mentor was Ezra Rasethe of investRand.

The 2023 judges for the property category included Kedibone Modiselle of the City of Tshwane, Georgina Smit of GBCSA, Kushinga Kambarami of IFC, Yovka Raytcheva-Schaap of Zutari and Brian Unsted of Liberty2Degrees. Judges for the engineering category included Mike Aldous of MPAMOT, Dash Coville of GBCSA, Werner van Antwerpen and George Muchanya of Growthpoint Properties and Marloes Reinink of Solid Green Consulting. Proptech judges included Matt Marshall from REdimension Capital, Bakang Moeng from GBCSA, and Clint Higgins and Hannes Steyn from Property Point.
Greenovate introduces young talent to the latest sustainability concepts and connects them with top sustainability influencers and property companies. This opportunity serves as a launchpad for their careers and expands the green talent pool for Growthpoint, the green building movement and South Africa’s overall benefit. The programme also fosters lasting networks and partnerships among participants.
Students from all South African universities are invited to participate in the Greenovate Awards and can register at greenovatecompetition.co.za/register.

Making a name for themselves as innovators, change-makers and planet-shapers, the winners of the 2023 Greenovate Student Awards are:
1st – Julian Banks, University of Cape Town: Design of an autonomous energy management agent for a hybrid microgrid.
2nd – Willem Barnard and Arnold van der Merwe, North West University: Renewable energy planning app and energy trading platform.
3rd – Tiffany Moodley, University of Pretoria: Enhancement of a hot water accumulator by
varying volume fraction and maintaining a constant surface area of phase change material.

1st – Aiden van Wyk and Isobella van der Merwe, University of Cape Town: An investigation into the benefits of EDGE-certified residential estates in terms of real-world savings.
2nd – Sindisiwe Kalumba and Hannah Volker, University of Cape Town: An examination of the uptake of net zero buildings in the South African commercial property market.
3rd – Riyaadh Dawood, Sechaba Mohlabeng and Xihluke Shivambu, University of the Witwatersrand: The utilisation of eggshells as a partial replacement for cement in concrete.

IFC EDGE PRIZE – Mahima Maharaj, University of Cape Town: Growing bio-building materials from CO2

1st – Oelinga by Songo Didiza and Zadok Olinga
2nd – Kaizen by Rob Whiteley
3rd – Learn Base Energy by Mokete Ratlabala