The Greenovate Awards showcase up-and-coming talent and innovation in the sustainable development arena.

Greening the Future

“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.” – Georgina Smit, GBCSA Head of Technical
“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.” – Grahame Cruickshanks, Head of Sustainability and Utilities, Growthpoint

Since 2015, Greenovate has been inspiring university students to pursue sustainable development. Hosted by Growthpoint Properties and the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA), the Greenovate Awards recognise and reward innovative, sustainable solutions by young minds in the built environment. The University of Cape Town (UCT) excelled once again, taking the top prizes in both property and engineering categories. In addition, the first-ever proptech award was introduced at the 2023 event, and was won by independent start-up, Oelinga.

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 who submitted their entries.

The Greenovate Award winners were announced at a gala dinner held at the Levelthree venue in Kramerville, Johannesburg, with its picturesque views of the Sandton CBD skyline – an iconic South African built environment, the centre of Sandton has the highest concentration of certified green buildings in Africa.

In 2023, 37 students from seven universities – University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), North West University (NWU), UCT, University of Pretoria (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. Prize money of R37 000 was awarded to the winner/s in each category, while the runner-up received R18 500 and the third place took home R12 500.

The Greenovate proptech category winner also receives a one-year Property Point Business Development Support programme focused on empowering them 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 International Finance Corporation (IFC) prize winner receives a laptop computer and EDGE (Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies) Expert training with the GBCSA. All winners receive tickets to attend the GBCSA convention, where the top team in each category present their projects on the innovation stage. Continuing to promote sustainable thinking and learning, the three top participants from the property and engineering streams will each attend a GBCSA One-Green Star 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.

Gert Fourie and Deelan Govender – Turner & Townsend
Marlene Senne and Iphendule Ndzipho – WSP
Cebisa Mafukuzela and Wardah Peters – Solid Green Consulting
Jutta Berns – Ecocentric
Mapula Matlakala – African Bank
Jenni Lombard, Michal Hohlfeld and
Abigail Godsell – GBCSA

Alex Varughese and Craig Blankers – WSP
Mary Anne Fechter – Zutari
Siziwe Mulidi – AMC Engineers
Makhosazana Mthethwa and Thato Molapo – Solid Green Consulting
Vere Shaba – Greendesign Africa

Ezra Rasethe – investRand

Kedibone Modiselle – City of Tshwane
Georgina Smit – GBCSA
Kushinga Kambarami – IFC
Yovka Raytcheva-Schaap – Zutari
Brian Unsted – Liberty2Degrees

Mike Aldous – MPAMOT
Dash Coville – GBCSA
Werner van Antwerpen and George Muchanya – Growthpoint Properties
Marloes Reinink – Solid Green Consulting

Matt Marshall – REdimension Capital
Bakang Moeng – GBCSA
Clint Higgins and Hannes Steyn – Property Point

Meet the 2023 Greenovators

+Impact chatted to the young movers and shakers behind the innovative solutions that earned them their awards.
UCT won the engineering category – which incorporates electrical, computer and electronic, civil and mechanical engineering. The second-place winners were from NWU, and 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 Wits.
Mahima Maharaj of UCT received the IFC Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiency (EDGE) Award for their presentation on growing bio-building materials from CO2.
The inaugural Greenovate Proptech Award went to 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.
We asked these change-makers what winning a Greenovate Award means to them, and how it impacts their careers and academic pursuits.


First prize: Julian Banks – UCT
Project: Design of an autonomous energy management agent for a hybrid microgrid

“Taking part in the Greenovate Awards was an amazing opportunity to meet like-minded students. Further, having our ambitions supported and encouraged by industry leaders is a unique and inspiring experience.

“The Greenovate awards validate our place as future professionals and provide an encouraging space that nurtures the belief that we can implement sustainable solutions.

“Truly, I feel privileged to have been afforded the platform to connect and form relationships with so many interesting individuals. I look forward to using this platform and working together to form a sustainable future for our country.”

From left: Grahame Cruickshanks, Growthpoint Head of Sustainability and Utilities, first-prize winner in the Engineering category Julian Banks, UCT student, and Georgina Smit, GBCSA Head of Technical

Second prize: Willem Barnard and Arnold van der Merwe – NWU
Project: Renewable energy planning app and energy trading platform

WB: “Winning second place in this category was a profoundly affirming milestone. The award was the perfect way to end my undergraduate studies on a high note. Iʼve always had a strong passion for renewable energies and have seen their positive impact first-hand on communities and society. The award symbolises my commitment to environmental sustainability but also serves as an accolade for personal growth. I plan to pursue a master’s degree in the future, hopefully focusing on renewable energies and their effective management and utilisation.”

AvdM: “Receiving this award shows me that the industry is willing to encourage sustainable practices and that there are large areas where the sustainability of buildings can be improved.

“This will lead me to placing more emphasis on supporting green building practices and other sustainability measures in my research and future professional career.

“I believe that there is still much to be done in creating a greener future.”

From left: Grahame Cruickshanks (Growthpoint Properties), second-prize winners in the Engineering category Arnold van der Merwe and Willem Barnard, NWU students, and Georgina Smit (GBCSA)

Third prize: Tiffany Moodley – UP
Project: Enhancement of a hot water accumulator by varying volume fraction and maintaining a constant surface area of phase change material

“Receiving the Greenovate award marked an unforgettable conclusion to my academic journey. The competition not only provided a platform to showcase the culmination of my engineering studies, but also emphasises the significance of sustainable practices in the industry. This recognition fills me with gratitude, and instils the confidence to venture into the professional realm with a strong commitment to contributing towards creating a more sustainable and environmentally friendly world.”

The Greenovate Award instils the confidence to venture into the professional realm with a strong commitment to contributing towards a more sustainable and environmentally friendly world.
From left: Grahame Cruickshanks (Growthpoint Properties), third-prize winner in the Engineering category Tiffany Moodley, UP student, and Georgina Smit (GBCSA)


First prize: Aiden van Wyk and Isobella van der Merwe – UCT
Project: An investigation into the benefits of EDGE-certified residential estates in terms of real-world savings

AvW: “Participating in Greenovate was an honour, as I was exposed to like-minded individuals, who not only care for the natural environment, but also take proactive steps towards innovation and change. Winning the competition serves as a humble reminder to keep pushing the boundaries of knowledge in my career and to consistently strive towards make a lasting positive impact on the South African property market. We look forward to presenting at the GBCSA Green Building Convention later this year and exposing ourselves to new research in the field of sustainability.”

IvdM: “Securing this award has not only instilled a sense of confidence and validation in me, but has also served as a catalyst for advancing my research endeavours. Earning the first-place position has motivated me to pursue a Master’s degree, allowing me to delve deeper into the unexplored facets of long-term studies on green buildings. The competition proved to be an invaluable networking platform, facilitating connections with influential figures in the industry. A noteworthy highlight was the privilege of meeting my mentor, Wardah Peters, whose guidance during the presentation process and insights from her extensive field experience have been instrumental in shaping my professional trajectory.”

From left: Grahame Cruickshanks (Growthpoint Properties), first-prize winners in the Property category Aiden van Wyk and Isobella van der Merwe, UCT students, and Georgina Smit (GBCSA)

Second prize: Sindisiwe Kalumba and Hannah Volker – UCT
Project: An examination of the uptake of Net Zero buildings in the South African commercial property market

SK: “To be among the winners is a true honour, validating the diligence and dedication invested by me, my research partner Hannah, and our supervisor Dr Saul Nurick in our examination. Furthermore, this achievement enables me to start my career in property valuation with confidence and with sustainability in mind. I am sincerely grateful to all who have made it possible for me to achieve this.”

HV: “Winning this award was my greatest achievement during my time at UCT. This competition furthered my passion for sustainable building, making me realise I could pursue this in my future career; but more importantly, giving me a sense of responsibility to make my mark in the industry.

At the event, we met many inspiring people, who believed we could be youthful ambassadors in this space. My partner and I are working towards publishing our research, where we intend to contribute to the understanding of Net Zero buildings in South Africa. I eagerly await my future in sustainable development.”

From left: Grahame Cruickshanks (Growthpoint Properties), second-prize winners in the Property category Sindisiwe Kalumba and Hannah Volker, UCT students, and Georgina Smit (GBCSA)

Third prize: Xihluke Shivambu, Riyaadh Dawood and Sechaba Mohlabeng – Wits
Project: The utilisation of eggshells as a partial replacement for cement in concrete

XS: “Winning third prize in the 2023 Greenovate Awards is a tremendous honour. It validates my dedication to sustainable construction and motivates me to further contribute to eco-friendly practices. This recognition enhances my career as a contractor’s quantity surveyor, enabling me to integrate solutions into future projects. It has fostered a holistic approach, aligning my thoughts and actions with sustainability directives. I’ve come to realise the importance of reviewing all infrastructural developments in order to provide sustainable solutions. I aim to advocate for sustainable construction practices and promote the incorporation of environmentally conscious materials.”

RD: “Placing third at the Greenovate Awards is a profound affirmation of my commitment to sustainable building practices. This achievement has fuelled my passion for ‘green’ solutions, amplifying my dedication to reducing environmental impacts within the industry. Such recognition validates the significance of our research, propelling me towards a future where sustainable practices in construction are integral to my career. It is an honour that not only acknowledges our efforts but also motivates me to contribute further to the intersection of academia and sustainable development.”

SM: “This accomplishment fills me with pride, not just for myself but for my dedicated group members. Our collective hard work and commitment have manifested in this success, showing that with determination, we can overcome challenges and achieve remarkable milestones. This achievement is a testament to the potential for success when individuals come together with a shared goal. It serves as a powerful reminder that I have the capability to tackle and triumph over any endeavour in my academic and professional journey, further solidifying my commitment to excellence in sustainable construction practices and advancing my career as a forward-thinking quantity surveyor.”

From left: Grahame Cruickshanks (Growthpoint Properties), third-prize winners in the Property category, Wits students Xihluke Shivambu, Riyaadh Dawood and Sechaba Mohlabeng, and Georgina Smit (GBCSA)


First prize: Oelinga by Songo Didiza and Zadok Olinga

“Winning the Greenovate award has introduced our cutting-edge technology to the real estate environment in a meaningful way. With real-time data, our real estate clients will be able to make informed decisions to reduce their utility costs, carbon footprint and operating costs. We believe that the timing of this technology is opportune as it supports our clients plan for clean energy projects and thus helps in circumventing their exposure to the carbon tax.”

From left: Grahame Cruickshanks (Growthpoint Properties), first-prize winners in the Proptech category, Zadok Olinga and Songo Didiza for Oelinga, and Georgina Smit (GBCSA)

Second prize: Kaizen by Rob Whiteley

“The Greenovate award wasn’t just a pat on the back – it was a launchpad. My RWA-backed STO, Kaizen, soared into a vibrant hub of green champions – fertile ground for sustainable real estate. Greenovate’s mantra ‘expose, introduce, encourage’ resonated. It illuminated industry needs, connected me to key players and ignited a passion to build better, greener cities. Every future pitch will echo their call: be an advocate for green buildings, a builder of better futures. The fuel, the connections, the exposure – Greenovate amplified my dream, propelling me from entrepreneur to founder, from dream to reality. It gave me a voice, purpose and platform: Revolutionizing Real Estate Investment and Greening the Planet. One Building at a Time.”

From left: Grahame Cruickshanks (Growthpoint Properties), second-prize winner in the Proptech category, Rob Whiteley for Kaizen, and Georgina Smit (GBCSA)

Third prize: Learn Base Energy by Mokete Ratlabala

“The Awards mean a lot for Learn Base Energy, especially showcasing the technology that has been built to industry experts and to students in pursuit of their own technological development – that they can also take a project from university to a fully commercial product that can be put out in the marketplace. Since participating in the competition, Learn Base’s technology has become available at major retailers.”

From left: Grahame Cruickshanks (Growthpoint Properties), third-prize winner in the Proptech category, Mokete Ratlabala for Learn Base Energy, and Georgina Smit (GBCSA)


“For me, the true value of this award lies not in the personal recognition but in the opportunity it provides to spotlight the urgency of rethinking our approach to construction materials. It is a reminder that our current practices are not just unsustainable; they contribute significantly to environmental challenges. My focus is on showcasing the possibilities of cultivating bio-building materials using carbon dioxide and bacteria, which not only addresses the environmental impact but also opens avenues for innovative, eco-friendly construction solutions. This award is a step forward in realising a future where our built environment aligns seamlessly with the principles of sustainability. It is an invitation to join a larger conversation and work collaboratively towards a greener, more sustainable world.”

This award is a step forward in realising a future where our built environment aligns seamlessly with the principles of sustainability.
From left: Grahame Cruickshanks (Growthpoint Properties), Yayeri Kisaame, Private Sector Development , Swiss Government State – Secretariat for Economic Affairs, IFC, EDGE prize winner Mahima Maharaj, UCT student, and Georgina Smit (GBCSA)
A win-win

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