We celebrate the talented young winners of the 2022 Greenovate Awards and their future-forward solutions.

Words Growthpoint Properties IMAGES Greenovate

Greenovate Awards 2022

Now in its eighth year, the Greenovate Awards launched in 2015 to seed an early passion for sustainable development in university students by focusing on property industry challenges and opportunities. The programme showcases up-and-coming talent, providing a platform for the future leaders of the built industry.

The University of Cape Town (UCT) continued its dominance at the Greenovate Awards 2022. UCT students took the top spots in both the property and engineering categories of the awards, which encourage, enable and reward innovative solutions for a more sustainable built environment by young talent.

Using fungal mycelium to create sustainable insulation material; adding artificial photosynthesis to the facades of buildings to power them; how bringing nature into building designs positively impacts the study performance of university students; and investing in property for social impact: these are some of the sustainability ideas explored by local university students in the annual Growthpoint Properties (JSE: GRT) and Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) Greenovate Awards. The competition co-founder, GBCSA, is entirely dedicated to shaping a green future and a built environment where people and the planet thrive.

The winners were announced at a gala dinner held at Katy’s Palace Bar in Johannesburg’s Kramerville, with its spectacular views of the Sandton CBD skyline. An iconic South African built environment, Sandton Central has the highest concentration of certified green buildings in Africa.

In 2022, 21 students from five universities – Wits, UCT, UP, Nelson Mandela University and Stellenbosch University – entered the awards. The students researched existing challenges, proposed unique solutions to real-life problems and presented their ideas to industry decision-makers.

Prize money of R34 500 is awarded to the winning students in each category, runners-up receive
R17 250, third-place winners take home R11 500, and the IFC prize winners receive 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 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.

Students entering the Greenovate Awards gain rare access to 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 unlimited approach to life and ideas that we see reflected in the Greenovate Awards by our university students is amazing. It is equally exciting to see the property industry coming together to support and create opportunities for our green-minded young talent. The result: a growing community of advocates for green building with a passion for creating a better world and a brighter, greener future.”
– Lisa Reynolds, GBCSA CEO
“This year’s forward-thinking projects are a window into the possibility of a better built environment. They are a starting point to meeting the significant need for research and development that offers implementable solutions for a sustainable built environment. Growthpoint is committed to an ambitious target to be carbon neutral by 2050, and innovation in the green building and energy spaces is essential to reach our goals. We are proud to drive the Greenovate Awards and confident that, in the very capable hands of South Africa’s young talent, we will see better, more sustainable, green buildings in future.”
– Grahame Cruickshanks, Head of Sustainability and Utilities, Growthpoint Properties
From left: Greenovate Property category judges Kushinga Kambarami (IFC), Mary-Anne Fechter (Zutari), Kedibone Modiselle (City of Tshwane) and Marc Sherratt (Marc Sherratt Sustainability Architects)

Greenovate 2022

property category mentors
Thashni Chetty – Turner & Townsend
Hlolo Manthose – WSP
Makhosazana Mthethwa – Solid Green Consulting
Mthobisi Masinga – GBCSA
Jutta Berns – Ecocentric
Louwna Joubert – Zutari
Reabetsoe Kgoedi – Growthpoint Properties

engineering category mentors
Alex Varughese – WSP
Mischa Tessendorf – GBCSA
Mary Anne Fechter – Zutari
Siziwe Mulidi – AMC Engineers

From left: Dash Coville, Georgina Smit, Mischa Tessendorf, Mthobisi Masinga (all from GBCSA) and Grahame Cruickshanks (Growthpoint Properties)

Greenovate 2022

property stream judges
Marc Sherratt – Marc Sherratt Sustainability Architects
Kedibone Modiselle – City of Tshwane
Georgina Smit – GBCSA
Kushinga Kambarami – IFC
Adrie Fourie – Solid Green Consulting
Sally Misplon – Misplon Green Building Consulting

engineering stream judges
Mike Aldous – MPAMOT
Dash Coville – GBCSA
Werner van Antwerpen – Growthpoint Properties
George Muchanya – Growthpoint Properties
Conrad Sanama – IFC
Bruce Paul – Concor Construction
Songa Didiza – Green Building Design Group

The Greenovate 2022 award-winners were celebrated at a gala dinner held at Katy’s Palace Bar in Johannesburg’s Kramerville.

And the winners are…

+Impact chatted to the 2022 Greenovate Award winners, who are making a name for themselves as innovators in the sustainable built environment.

UCT triumphed in the engineering category, which incorporates electrical, computer and electronic, civil and mechanical engineering. The first- and second-place winners were both from UCT, and in third place, the University of Pretoria (UP). The property category, which includes quantity surveying, construction management and property studies, was also won by UCT. The second and third places went to the University of Witwatersrand (Wits).

For the first time this year, a new award was introduced, sponsored by International Finance Corporation (IFC – a member of the World Bank Group) and linked to EDGE green building certification – an innovation of the IFC. This award was won by students from Wits.

We asked these young change-makers what inspired them to enter the competition, and what the potential impacts of their winning projects are on the promotion of green practices.


First prize: Mbali Mahlangeni and Toneka Pasiwe – UCT
Project: An investigation into the impact of the South African private sector investing in social infrastructure as a vehicle to attain their Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) goals

“We’re passionate about the socio-economic development of South Africa and fuelling awareness about social sustainability. Sustainability conversations veer towards the environmental aspect, and while that’s very important, it is not a holistic approach, particularly in the South African context. We believe this competition is a great platform to reimagine what sustainability entails, within the framework of ESG, and how it can have a measurable impact.

“We did a critical assessment of the private sector investing in social infrastructure in the context of the ESG framework in South Africa. To us, green practices were limiting their impact when they excluded social issues as the basis of their green solutions. We investigated impact investors and funds that prioritise social impact – social infrastructure investment –to understand their decision-making processes, what sustainability entails for them, and how they managed to make it a viable business solution. We challenge the notion that sustainability can be achieved solely through green practices, and propose that for impactful and holistic sustainability, all three pillars need to be at the forefront.”

From left: First-prize winners in the Property category, Toneka Pasiwe and Mbali Mahlangeni of UCT

Second prize: Mpidiseng Mohlaba, Manqoba Mthimkhulu and Asanda Gwala – Wits
Project: The use of artificial photosynthesis in the construction of building facades
This team also won the new IFC prize for their contribution.

“Our goal was to share creative ideas on how the construction industry can assist in tackling global warming while promoting the adoption of green building in order improve the livelihoods and health of building occupants. So, it was more about exchanging solutions with the right people than about winning the awards!

“Artificial photosynthesis (AP) is a process that bio-mimics natural photosynthesis. This process uses solar energy to split water and carbon dioxide into hydrogen, oxygen and carbon. A catalyst then recombines the molecules to create energy-dense chemical fuels. Unlike fossil fuels, these fuels are not climate-altering. Ultimately, the incorporation of AP into building facades has the potential to revolutionise the way we produce and use energy, while also aiding in the fight against global warming.”

From left: Second-prize winner in the Property category, Mpidiseng Mohlaba (Wits), Georgina Smit (GBCSA) and co-winner Asanda Gwala (Wits)

For the first time this year, a new award was introduced, sponsored by International Finance Corporation (IFC).
Third team member and second-prize winner, Manqoba Mthimkhulu (Wits)

Third prize: Kingsley Martell and Kyle Motani – Wits
Project: The effect of greenness on financial performance of South African real estate investment trusts (REITs)

“Greenovate gave us a platform and the opportunity to present our research to experienced industry professionals in fields that have progressively been transforming our real estate market through the implementation of sustainable solutions, and positively influencing the relationships between buildings, people and the environment.

“We investigated the effect of green buildings on the financial performance of REIT portfolios. In essence, we analysed the proportions of green buildings within portfolios, measured against financial performance indicators. We found that green buildings in South Africa have positive impacts on REIT’s financial performance. Our findings support and add to existing data that demonstrate sustainable practices lead to future-proofing real estate assets, benefiting all stakeholders and the environment.”

From left: Property category mentor Jutta Berns (Ecocentric), Property category third-prize winners Kingsley Martell and Kyle Motani (Wits), and Growthpoint Properties’ Grahame Cruickshanks

Engineering category awards

First prize: Anna Pamela Reid – UCT
Project: Mycelium bio-composite as a sustainable insulation solution

“My supervisor, Assoc. Prof. Dyllon Randall, encouraged me to register for the Greenovate Awards. As soon as I began the project, I grew increasingly passionate about the concept and its potential as a sustainable alternative to current insulators. The competition was an exciting opportunity to share what I was learning with industry professionals.”

“I examined the possibility of using a mycelium bio-composite material as a thermal insulator in buildings. Mycelium – the microscopic root-like part of fungi – can be used to bind a natural substrate which, once dried, becomes a lightweight bio-composite. I fabricated insulation panel samples using Pleurotus ostreatus fungi and local hardwood sawdust waste. When tested against commercially sold thermal insulators, the mycelium bio-composite was competitive and, in some cases, outperformed the commercial equivalents on the grounds of thermal resistance. Producing this bio-composite is also simpler and cheaper than a fossil fuel-based insulator like polypropylene. These positive results show that there are promising alternatives to conventional building materials.”

From left: Georgina Smit (GBCSA), first-prize winner in the Engineering category Anna Reid (UCT), and Grahame Cruickshanks (Growthpoint Properties)
Reid’s project resulted in a mycelium-biocomposite insulation material, consisting of hardwood sawdust and Pleurotus ostreatus fungi.

Second prize: Msawenkosi Mkhize – UCT
Project: Internet of Things (IoT) technology in monitoring greywater quality for non-potable water use

“Greenovate is the only competition that allows undergraduates to submit their final thesis, as far as I know. Because it centres around green innovation – and my thesis investigated a sustainable way to recycle domestic waste water – it was an ideal platform to share my research. I believe it has potential to change the way we look at and use wastewater.”

“Amanzi Impilo (Water is life) project is about recycling wastewater generated in a domestic set-up for reuse. This allows a household to repurpose the wastewater for garden irrigation and ablutions, rather than using clean drinking water. The project uses IoT devices, employing machine learning, artificial intelligence and a bit of cloud computing to automate the process, and allows for continuous monitoring of the wastewater. The leading reason for not implementing a wastewater solution in households is the possibility of exposure to toxic water. Continuous monitoring is also equipped with ability to alert users on the state of the water in the tank.”

From left: Grahame Cruickshanks, Growthpoint Properties, second-prize winner in the Engineering category, Msawenkosi Mkhize (UCT) and Georgina Smit (GBCSA)
Mhkize’s Amanzi Impilo project shows how the Internet of Things connects to a filtration system comprising three containers – the first two act as filters and the bottom container serves as a storage tank containing the sensors.

Third prize: Reinhard Ferreira, Mulisa Shavhani and Beth Watson – UP
Project: Carbon-neutral building cooling via phase-change materials with ventilation

From left: Grahame Cruickshanks, Growthpoint Properties, third-prize winners in the Engineering category, Mulisa Shavhani, Beth Watson and Reinhard Ferreira (UP), and Georgina Smit (GBCSA)

“With the current global energy and environmental crises top of mind, for our final year project, we selected a research topic that could reduce negative impacts in the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) industry. As the project grew, we were excited about its potential, and we had the opportunity to showcase our idea at the Greenovate Awards.

“The focus of our project was to determine the feasibility of using a suspended phase-changing material (PCM) – in this case, coconut oil, inside ventilation ducts – in moderating the temperature within an office. Coconut oil absorbs excess heat generated during the day, which helps keeps the space cool. The coconut oil releases that heat back into the room at night, which helps maintain a comfortable temperature inside. This approach reduces the need for conventional HVAC systems, which require a lot of energy – generated by fossil fuels, which contribute to the current global climate crisis.”

A springboard for the future

Through Greenovate, young talent is exposed to the very latest in sustainability thinking and ideas, and enjoy direct access to leading sustainability and property companies, which creates a springboard to launch their future careers. These special awards are growing the green talent pool for Growthpoint and for the green building movement. During this process, the students also create lasting networks and partnerships.

Next year’s Greenovate Awards promise to be even more exciting, with the planned introduction of a new prop-tech category. Students from all South African universities are invited to participate and can register at www.greenovatecompetition.co.za/register.

14 June 2023 | 10h00 – 11h30
Planet Shapers Webinar: Youth-full Solutions
To celebrate Youth Month, Planet Shapers is welcoming the 2022 Greenovate Award Winners to share their winning submissions with our green building community. Join us for fresh insight, innovative thinking and groundbreaking solutions that are driving the green building movement forward. The webinar is free to attend and open to all. www.gbcsa.org.za/event/1486