Company advises communities on using less energy

Mario Roos and Jason Samuels with their expertise assist schools to become more energy efficient.

A local body has given entrepreneurs a much-needed boost by giving recognition to outstanding entrepreneurs by selecting them as their Entrepreneur of the Month.

This month’s nomination by the Stellenbosch Network went to Green X Engineering a company committed to helping communities become energy-wise. Green X Engineering, had just completed the country’s most successful energy audit and fix to date for a school in Stellenbosch.

Cofounded in early 2021 by Jason Samuels, Professor Thinus Booysen, Professor Saartjie Grobbelaar and Mario Roos, Green X Engineering is promoting sustainability by helping clients and communities improve their energy and environmental impact by helping them understand, optimise, and reduce their electricity usage.

With the help of both Professor Booysen and Professor Grobbelaar, they discovered that older school buildings were using a significant portion of their energy on lighting – specifically, fluorescent lighting dating back to their construction several decades ago. “They were all old apartheid-era buildings and hadn’t been upgraded to be more energy-savvy,” recalls Mr Samuels.

For the next step, the trio wanted to see what impact newer lighting technology would have on schools’ energy usage. They approached Mr Roos, the owner of a specialised lighting and electrical maintenance company, who agreed to retrofit the schools with energy-wise LED lighting.

“We started with one location in Stellenbosch and took out all the old fluorescent lights. These lights had mercury in them and were carbon heavy. But just this one intervention reduced the energy usage of the school by 60% and costs by 40%,” explains Mr Roos. “We published the results and went to the Western Cape Education Department to ask them to extend the trial to more institutions around the province. They approved our proposal and gave us funding for 12 more schools, which later expanded to 25 when Stellenbosch University came on board with additional support.”

The team spent the next year travelling from school to school, completing analyses and retrofits when in early 2021, Mr Roos suggested the group formalise their partnership into a business.

Since then, Green X Engineering has retrofitted the lighting in all 25 assigned schools around Stellenbosch. As a result, the team estimates that they’ve saved roughly 120kg of carbon emissions per school per day, with a proposal now on the table to extend their work to all 1,600 schools in the Western Cape.

“A highlight for us was a school in Cloetesville, where we were recently awarded an A-Rated Energy Performance Certificate for our efforts – the highest rating you can get, and the first to be completed for a school in South Africa,” says Mr Roos.

However, schools are just the first stop for Green X Engineering. In the future, the team is planning to branch out into hospitals, factories and other commercial industries as well.

“But for now, we’ll be focusing on getting schools up to scratch,” concludes Mr Samuels. To learn more about Green X Engineering, go to, www.gxe.co.za