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The Greenovate Awards triumph despite lockdown

The winners of the student Greenovate Awards 2020 have been announced, but not with the usual gala ceremony. Instead, like the rest of the prestigious competition, the honours were conducted online following a uniquely challenging year.

Fresh life for old tyres and visionary 3D printing for construction: these are just some of the clever and sustainable ideas presented by university students competing in the annual Growthpoint Properties and Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) Greenovate Awards.

The University of Stellenbosch triumphed overall, notably in the engineering category – which incorporates electrical, computer and electronic, civil, and mechanical engineering – with its students taking all three top spots.

The property-led category – which includes quantity surveying, construction management and property studies – was won by the University of the Witwatersrand, while the University of Cape Town took both second and third position.

The Greenovate Awards have been active since 2015, aiming to seed an early passion for sustainable development in university students, notably in engineering and property-related faculties at South African institutions. The Greenovate programme hothouses innovative thinking and imagination in these young people – the future leaders of the built industry.

Grahame Cruickshanks, Head of Sustainability and Utilities at Growthpoint

In 2020, a record 31 students from seven universities entered. However, this year of the competition will be remembered as uniquely gruelling not just because of the high standard and large number of entries, but also because of the extraordinary circumstances presented by 2020. Lockdown, closed education facilities and online learning meant the competition was conducted virtually from the get-go, from the initial mentorship provided for students by experts affiliated with the GBCSA, right through to judging and even the awards presentation.

“Learning in lockdown was difficult enough, but for these students to present such forward-thinking projects under these conditions really impressed the judges,” says Grahame Cruickshanks, Growthpoint’s head of sustainability and utilities. “The commitment shown was astounding. In such trying times, we at Growthpoint are prouder than ever to be drivers of the Greenovate Student Awards – and the future of green building looks to be in capable and creative hands.”

As for the co-founder of the competition, the GBCSA, building a green future is literally at the heart and soul of the association, and Greenovate is firmly rooted in its ongoing commitment to sustainability.

“This year’s Greenovate Awards demonstrated student enthusiasm and passion for applying their learning to solutions that will make the world more sustainable. It’s inspiring to know that so many students are actively using the built environment as a ‘living lab’ to explore new opportunities. The GBCSA is proud to be part of stimulating ‘greenovation’ within South African universities and shaping a better future,” says Georgina Smit, head of technical at the GBCSA.

Prize money of R30 000 is awarded to the winning student (or group pf students) 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, set to take place in Cape Town in October.

However, the students also benefit immensely from the support and input provided by the programme – much of which was enabled by technology and email in 2020 – as well as gaining a prestigious platform in their chosen field. Crucially they are also given the opportunity, expertise and resources to develop their research into a real and workable product or service for the property industry – and for the future, both their own and the planet’s.

The winners of the 2020 Greenovate Student Awards are:

PROPERTY

First: Fadheelah Madhi, Shweta Singh and Mpho Mtimkulu – University of the Witwatersrand: “The Use of Waste Tyre Rubber in the Partial Substitution of Cement Bricks in South Africa.”

Second: Talia White – University of Cape Town: “An investigation into Critical Success Factors for Sustainable Waste Management in Shopping Centres.”

Third: Alan Hunter and Dylan Hubner – University of Cape Town: “An Investigation of the Impact of Implementing Innovative Technology to Reduce Energy Consumption in South African Commercial Property.”

ENGINEERING

First: Jean-Pierre Mostert – Stellenbosch University: “Topological Interlocking for 3D Printed Concrete.”

Second: Rue Munemo – Stellenbosch University: “Thixotropic Characteristics for Robust Interlayers in 3D Printable Concrete.”

Third: Moniqué Scheepers – Stellenbosch University: “Development of a Training Methodology for Emerging Contractors.”

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