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UCT shines in South Africa's first Greenovate Awards

30th November 2015
Contributor: Growthpoint Properties Limited

Young environmental innovators from the University of Cape Town scooped both first and second prizes in the inaugural Growthpoint Greenovate Awards, which recognise innovation linked to environmental challenges.

The awards programme is an exciting initiative launched by Growthpoint Properties in association with the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) earlier this year. It is designed to inspire and encourage students of the built environment to discover, explore and invent ways to live more sustainably.

The Growthpoint Greenovate Awards was piloted at the University of Cape Town, University of the Witwatersrand and University of Pretoria in 2015. For its premier programme, students were challenged to come up with ideas that would result in a research project that promotes a more sustainable built environment. Their projects could be applied to any aspect of a building - design, development, planning, construction, materials - anything that makes the way we live greener and our environmental footprint lighter.

Werner van Antwerpen, head of sustainability at South Africa's largest JSE-listed REIT, Growthpoint Properties, explains: "Everyone is a winner when innovation for a greener, healthier, more sustainable environment is nurtured. The university students taking part in the Greenovate Awards, and the winners in particular, presented pioneering projects. Their smart and inspiring thinking shows how we can drive green building thinking forward, to ensure a better, greener future."

The winners were announced at a gala dinner at the Protea Hotel Fire & Ice Melrose Arch on 26 November 2015, with keynote speaker, well-known innovator and business leader, Michael Jordaan, who is Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Montegray Capital. Groups from each of the participating university competed internally first, with the two top projects from each chosen as the six finalists.

The first ever winners of the Greenovate Awards are the UCT team of Rowan McKenzie, Dijon Ross and Miekie van der Merwe, with supervisor Saul Nurick. They focused on the role of the IPD Green Property Indicator in the South African property market.

This team of outstanding young green innovators took home R30,000 in prize money. They will also be fully sponsored to attend the GBCSA's Green Building Convention in 2016. Here they will present their research project to property professionals and green leaders from around the country and across the continent. They will also be treated to green building tours to get an insider's perspective on some of South Africa's most innovative green buildings.

The UCT team taking second place, supervised by Dr Kathy Michell, comprised Alex Demetrious, Daniel Searle and Ken Toplis. They examined urban facilities management and the development of a sustainability rating tool for urban precincts. These students used the Central City Improvement District (CCID) of Cape Town as their case study. The team earned a prize of R8,000 for their insightful project, as well as tickets to the Green Building Convention in 2016. They will join the winning team on the green building tours.

The third placed group of young green thinkers came from University of the Witwatersrand. The team included Amy McGregor, Thabo Mthuthu and Wardah Peters, and was supervised by Dr Dave Root. This group of Wits students researched an Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) Framework to improve sustainability and green building practice in the construction industry. They won R2,000, tickets to the Green Building Convention 2016 and a place on the green building tours.

Brian Wilkinson, CEO of the GBCSA, who was also one of the competition judges says: "The award entries were all of an outstanding calibre. They show an exciting new wave of green thinking. Equally inspiring is the exposure that the many property, construction and quantity surveying third year and honours level students are getting to green building principles as a result the Growthpoint Greenovate Awards Programme. By learning about green building and sustainability early in their careers, the positive impacts this next generation of property professionals will have on our urban environment will benefit all South Africans hugely."

Wilkinson was joined on the judging panel by Neil Gopal, CEO of the South African Property Owners Association (SAPOA), Moeketsi Thobela who is CEO of the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA) and Technical Director for Buildings at Aurecon, Martin Smith.

For Greenovate Award participants the benefits go well beyond winning a prize. The programme provides students with an opportunity to work with leading green building thinkers in Greenovate workshops with industry professionals.

Van Antwerpen says the success of this year's competition will see the awards programme becoming much bigger in coming years. "Based on the positive response from the universities, this programme to recognise and encourage environmentally innovative thinking among South Africa's future property leaders is poised to grow."

Ultimately, the Growthpoint Greenovate Awards programme will be made available to all universities in the country with the appropriate built environment faculties.

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