10 January 2024

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. This is Part 1 of a two-part article.

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 evaluating water efficiency measures to reduce water scarcity impacts – these are some of the sustainability ideas explored by local university students in the annual Growthpoint and Green Building Council of 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 (Wits).

The 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.

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.

Continued in Part 2…

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