10 years, 10 lessons: Ecolution celebrates a decade of sustainability

From director André Harms’ adventurous beginnings in Antarctica; to a small green building firm that led the sustainability of Africa’s greenest hotel, to a dedicated team with a host of green building projects under its wing – Ecolution Consulting celebrated 10 years of living, working, and playing sustainability in April.

In light of this, we asked the employees of Ecolution to reflect on the lessons they have learned over the years:

“Collaboration is more important than competition” – André Harms, Founding director, and Sustainability Engineer

I’ve learned that our industry is fast moving and rapidly growing, there is more than enough space for many good players. In fact that diversity should be seen as a strength and prompt to collaborate. With good partnerships where various parties come together, each focus on their strengths and leverage their skills and networks, the total will be much greater than the sum of the parts. This could lead to far more impact in transformation of the built environment, policy and individual projects alike.

There’s “value [in] having multiple perspectives and viewpoints” – Ayesha Nakhwa, Sustainability Engineer

“A big lesson I’ve learnt during my time at Ecolution, is the importance of team work and diversity. At Ecolution we have a unique team made up with individuals from different academic and personal backgrounds. This has proven to be a great strength time and time again especially when problem-solving. It has taught me the value of having multiple perspectives and viewpoints and how they successfully contribute to a well-rounded solution.”

Build “resiliency and embrace change” – Catherine Luyt, Sustainability Consultant

This couldn’t have been more true during the past year when Ecolution, along with every other business, had to adapt and struggle through the challenging times of 2020 and 2021. But we’re coming out of it stronger and that’s what I love about working at Ecolution. Over the years that I’ve been part of this team, I’ve been witness to us tailoring our services and work to meet the needs and abilities of our clients, to guide them in their unique sustainability journeys, and recommending the best-fit green building certification to suit their needs and trajectory.

Redefine “sustainability” – James Joubert, Sustainability Consultant

Since joining Ecolution, the word “Sustainability” has taken on a whole new meaning for me – probably also because I type the word about 20 times a day :). It speaks of taking without depleting, feeding back into the precious cycle of life on this planet, making decisions for the good of all (not just a selected few using one criterion) and also, sustaining oneself in one’s sustainability efforts.

“Sustainability is Journey” – André Harms, Founding director, and Sustainability Engineer

We always tell our clients that reaching a truly sustainable, regenerative business is a journey with no end. Rather, there is a starting point with many specific milestones along the way. It is good to have an overarching goal and we encourage that too. But at times this may be vague or overwhelming, so it is very effective to break it down into manageable interventions or phases. This will create ever increasing long-term and meaningful impacts.

Both personal and systemic change is important – Cornelia Mey, Sustainability Engineer

My work at Ecolution Consulting and its core focus on sustainability in the built environment has given me an in-depth appreciation for both the impact of small positive changes, and the overall complexity when taking a holistic view of sustainability. And personally, I enjoy being surrounded by people that strive for efficiency and excellence, without ever sacrificing the integrity of our important work.

Practice the sustainability principles that you promote – Thomas Hugo, Building Performance and Sustainability Engineer

It was a first for me to work autonomously, without a team of [modelling] engineers to consult or bounce ideas off. This has consequently taught me to take full responsibility for maintaining a high professional standard of work and to complete modelling projects I can be proud of.  I am proud to be a part of a team that actively practices many of the sustainability principles that we promote. I honour the individuals who make up this practice-what-we-preach ethos. And all the while I have enjoyed living a balanced life by seeking rewards beyond salary, by also making a lasting constructive difference to the way our buildings are designed and operated.

“Teamwork really is dreamwork” – Wardah Safi, Sustainability Consultant

The resilience and collaboration on projects illustrate that, when working together, seemingly big tasks are doable and achievable with the various inputs from individuals resulting in a refined and quality output.

“Impact is more important than a certificate on the wall” – André Harms, Founding director, and Sustainability Engineer

A plaque or certificate on a  wall should never take precedence over holistic, true and sustained impact. Green building, product, precinct tools and certifications are an incredibly powerful tool towards true impact but should not be the targeted outcome in and of itself. The aim should rather be rather to embed the resource efficiency and improve environmental, health/wellness, transformation and sustainability impact itself.

Take responsibility for your part – Sibulele Jonas, Business Administrator

Working at Ecolution Consulting has been amazing over the years since I started working here. I have grown and learnt so much looking back. At Ecolution I have learnt to work professionally and independently, taking full responsibility for all my tasks. We are a small group of colleagues, who are more like family. Ecolution takes pride in their employees and I am proud to be working in such a diverse company with such wonderful individuals. I have gained so much work experience and skills. This has been the best company I have ever worked for. Happy 10th birthday to Ecolution!