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Big Sustainability Ideas Triumph: COINS Construction Industry Grand Challenge



Construction Industry Solutions Ltd (Slough, Berkshire) has revealed the winners for the inaugural COINS Construction Industry Grand Challenge (CCIGC) at the Grand Final Gala Dinner & Awards Ceremony.

The first of the night’s winners was Jacob Johnson from the USA who won the New and Emerging Technologies award. Jake’s big idea was on Solar Desalination, involving the purification of salt or fresh water without the grid and simultaneously providing a sustainable energy source. Solar Desalination takes inspiration from the earth’s precipitation cycles and Jake’s idea replicates that process in an innovative community-level system.

Jake is an architectural designer and engineer who is dedicated to projects surrounding sustainable engineering and building. Jake secured a place at Singularity University’s 7 day Executive Program.

Jake commented on his big idea, saying, “I am 100% dedicated to sustainable engineering and using my time to resolve environmental issues. I primarily want to focus on the drought that is devastating wildlife and threatening the economic stability of the California coastal farming region. With enough of these Solar Desalination systems around the world, millions of lives could be saved and help to ensure California’s economy remains stable.”

The second big winner of the night was Toby Quirk from the UK, who won the Leadership 35 award. Toby’s idea centred on improving the environmental impact of construction in the residential sector, by creating government schemes to enforce and reward the development and purchase of greener homes.

Toby is on the graduate scheme at Taylor Wimpey Plc and has a BSc in Construction Commercial Management and MSc in Quantity Surveying. Toby wins a place on the Postgraduate Certificate course at the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership.

When asked about his idea and winning Leadership 35, Toby responded, “This idea will change the way sustainability is viewed by the nation. The aim is to create, at volume, homes that produce more energy than they use throughout their life cycle. The development of sustainable homes will be seen as a real commercial opportunity for everyone involved. This idea will benefit supply-chain, developers, local governments and most importantly customers, increasing the quality of their lives.”

Robert Brown Chairman of the COINS Grand Challenge committee, added, “We received some impressive entries for the COINS Construction Industry Grand Challenge. The big ideas from Jake and Toby really stuck out because of the impact they would have on society and the construction industry. Both of these ideas gained recognition from the judging panel and we look forward to supporting both winners with their ambition and determination to help solve society’s hardest problems.”

The 3rd big award of the evening was won by Hermione Crease, cofounder of PurrMetrix, a company which uses the Internet of Things and data analytics to help improve the performance of HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning) in commercial buildings. This will help to reduce the level of energy used by HVAC systems in the built environment.

Hermione scooped the Bouygues UK Special R&D Award, which gives the opportunity for PurrMetrix’s idea to be taken forward as part of Bouygues UK’ corporate R&D programme.

Hermione Crease commented on her award, “I am thrilled to have won and we are looking forward working with Bouygues UK to take this idea forward. The Internet of Things is a widely discussed topic, but in construction it has the potential to drive a much greater level of efficiency in heating and cooling systems. By heat-mapping buildings in real time, PurrMetrix identifies when and where problems arise, so facilities management can easily identify any problems.”

The award was handed to Hermione by Aleksandra Njagulj, Head of Sustainability and Innovation at Bouygues UK, she commented “The industry’s made great strides in improving the energy performance of buildings through design and construction. However, information around the actual use of buildings and their energy performance once occupied is still very much the Holy Grail. I’m excited about Hermione’s idea which, in conjunction with the Internet of Things, could really help us to bridge that gap. This detailed insight into the world of buildings once they are in use will allow us to build on the solid work we’ve already done and make even more informed choices earlier in the build process, optimising for maximum efficiency.”

Aleksandra Njagulj presented two additional awards of 3-month paid internships to Tim Errington (UK) and Alex C.Y. Wong (Malaysia).

Runners up in the Grand Challenge include Toby Ferenczi (UK), in the New and Emerging Technologies category, and Anielle Guedes (Brazil), for theLeadership 35 award.

The full shortlist of finalists and their big ideas is available on the COINS website.

This COINS Construction Industry Grand Challenge was open to anyone who had a big idea that could positively impact the lives of millions of people, by improving energy consumption and/or sustainability leadership in construction.

The competition offered two challenges, each with a unique prize. The first challenge – “New and Emerging Technologies” – relates to uncovering a big but viable technology-based idea that will significantly reduce energy consumption at any or all stages in the lifecycle of built assets. The second challenge – “Leadership 35” – is for people under 35 who have the vision and personal qualities to bring a new approach to sustainability leadership within the construction industry.

On the judging panel and attending that evening was Larry Sullivan, Derek Leaver and Robert Brown of COINS, Aleksandra Njagulj (Bouygues UK), Ian Heasman (Taylor Wimpey), Thomas Lau (Laing O’Rourke), Christopher Dyson (Carillion), Dr Deborah Morecroft (NanoFab Tools), Mike Halsall (Singularity University), Catherine Tilley and Dr Louise Driffill (University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership), and Ben Haldin (Fulcro Engineering).

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