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Design Challenges are competitions that inspire the creation of improved solutions to society’s most complicated problems. Innovators and entrepreneurs must be supported to design products and services with real social impact.
AL for Infrastructure continues to bring forth opportunities that facilitate the exploration, creation and implementation of smart ideas developed by young leaders.
In the recent Design and Innovation Challenge hosted by our opportunity partner ALEC, future leaders Akhente Borotho (Lesotho) and Wyckliffe Madunda (Kenya) conceptualised a smart energy management solution that may soon be incorporated in the organization’s operations, contributing towards improving their already progressive sustainability practices.
Wyckliffe is an ALA alum from the 2015 graduating class and a MasterCard Foundation Graduate Scholar. He holds a BSc Degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. He holds over three years of experience in the tech industry and research environments from his work experience with several teams on multidisciplinary projects. He has been part of incredibly unique projects like the ICON Berkeley Program, funded by NASA’s Heliophysics division to design the ICON satellite that investigates changes in the ionosphere of Earth. Wyckliffe also formed part of the iconic team behind the Eclipse megamovie project, funded by Google’s Making and Science Initiative, to collect and curate rare data on the Sun’s Corona. He has experience in designing, prototyping, and manufacturing bioreactor systems that speed up the product development time. Wyckliffe has taken it upon himself to learn the latest AI tools to easily process and manipulate numerical information and devised strategic initiatives that are valuable to reducing HVAC Energy Consumption in large buildings.
Akhente is a 2021 graduate of the African Leadership Academy (ALA), with a diploma in Advanced Level Cambridge International Examinations in Physics, Mathematics and Geography. He also pursued studies in ALA’s core subjects in Entrepreneurial Leadership, Writing & Rhetoric and African Studies. Akhente is currently enrolled in the Engineering School of the University of Notre Dame, majoring in Environmental/Mechanical Engineering and a minor in Real Estate. He is the founder and CEO of GreenToolz, a for profit student enterprise at the ALA campus, which is part of a larger idea to use technology in revolutionising agriculture on the African continent. Akhente has worked on individual projects in energy consumption management, finally piloting one with the Lesotho Electricity Company.
Tasked with solving the energy management challenge identified by ALEC’s management after concluding a comprehensive sustainability audit, the team was given an opportunity to design solutions that could be implemented in real life.
The Energy Management team summarised their approach to their solution below.
The importance of efficient energy management strategies to reduce energy demand on construction sites cannot be emphasized enough. In 2019, the construction section accounted for 36% of final energy use and 39% of energy process-related carbon dioxide emissions. This represents a 2 % increase in sector emissions from the previous year and a 7% increase in energy demand from a decade ago.
Construction companies like ALEC have a responsibility to manage energy use by reducing reliance on fossil fuel, reducing fuel consumption and energy waste on their constructions sites. Since 2017 ALEC’s changes of policy, equipment, and protocols have seen the company saving over 27% in diesel costs due to generator size reduction policy, paperless documentation, work from home policy, LED lightings, and lighting controls.
Nonetheless, to evaluate the success of these policies ALEC has to make GHG measuring and tracking the heartbeat of their energy management strategy at it is hard to manage what one can’t measure. Our energy management proposal to ALEC is one of data-driven energy management construction. This strategy when implemented will help ALEC tactically optimize its processes, policies, energy use, and equipment. Because we believe when energy use is deliberately monitored, controlled, and conserved, decreases in emissions and overall costs can be realized without sacrificing operations.
The Energy Management team, elated at being chosen as winners were grateful for the exposure enabled through this program.
“The challenge was a fast paced environment; everyone was working around the clock to deliver the best solutions they could. It was a fun experience overall and the only great challenges were technical challenges, getting used to operational culture in the UAE etc. Apart from being a learning experience, a platform to showcase creativity and to forge lifelong relationships, the challenge was an introduction into the work environment that I greatly needed, and am very grateful for”, said Akhente of his experience.
Always with a view of the bigger picture, Wyckliffe remarked, “The goals of sustainable construction are big and cannot be achieved by a single discipline or team, it will require multidisciplinary innovation to come up with sustainable construction management practices. ALEC’s partnership with ALA is a seed of such multidisciplinary innovation and I cannot wait to see the fruits of that relationship”.
We asked Tyron Holgate, Innovation Specialist at ALEC, to share his perspective on the winning team’s approach.
“Wyckliffe and Akhente were, in my mind, perfect candidates to tackle the Energy Management topic. It was clear from the first presentation that they had an in-depth understanding of the challenges that the industry faces around energy management and consumption, and they were already building a database of solutions to tackle the problems at hand from the start. More so, they had formulated a strategy and delivery plan for the overall program from day 1, constantly adapting this strategy to align with the comments that they were receiving from us (ALEC). This forethought and pre-planning allowed them the flexibility to devise practical solutions from the limited information provided and deliver successfully on their topic objectives. These solutions are now with our company stakeholders undergoing further evaluation for possible implementation”.