Q&A with Jules Di Bartolomeo, General Manager of Verosol

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With a diverse product line, an unparalleled environmental program, and an ongoing educational commitment, Verosol is a go-to for any design professional looking for window furniture that performs exceptionally, looks the part – and helps to score points on their Green Star Building project.

Here, Verosol Managing Director Jules Di Bartolomeo talks to us about the changing nature of innovation, why fostering design freedom has always been a top brand priority – and how to embrace the best practices with performance window coverings where Environmentally Sustainable Design and Section J are concerned.

We cannot talk about Verosol without talking about innovation. In 1965, the founder of Verosol, Cornelis Verolme, developed a process for applying a microscopic layer of aluminum to textiles, to create innovative performance fabrics. This fabric metallization process is, to date, entirely unique, and although the company has further refined the invention – with SilverScreen as its most coveted expression – the competition has failed to come close. What role does innovation play at Verosol today?

As glass became a prominent feature in the built environment at the time, Verosol was born out of a desire to create a better environment inside buildings. This has changed and innovation is no longer just about creating a better environment indoors, but also outdoors. Now, how we make products is as important as the effect they have on the environment. All of our manufacturing plants in Australia and the Netherlands are powered by solar energy, and the drive to create sustainable solutions that generate a more sustainable environment is firmly in our DNA.

But there is also another side to our innovation efforts. Providing architects and designers with true design freedom and ensuring they don’t have to sacrifice performance to achieve beautiful aesthetics has always been one of our top priorities. Over the years we have improved the performance of our products, but we have also become very flexible in allowing industry professionals to tailor colors to their specific project requirements or vision. And because we know that not all buildings need a high-performance solution, we have also developed other products. We have pushed our design capabilities and although we are world leaders in performance products, we also offer high quality non-metallic fabrics and various types of external and internal rollers, shutters and drape curtains, just to name a few. to name a few.

Do you think this ability to recognize where to focus Verosol’s innovation has helped the company maintain its undisputed position as the world leader in this area?

Regardless of color, our metallic products deliver the same performance, energy savings, CO2 reduction – and cost savings. We have been innovating it for years and we are very proud of this achievement. And it’s also because we make our products here in Australia and spend more time testing them than making them. We take great pride in having extremely low error rates and ensure that our products not only look good but work amazingly well.

Between the ongoing commitment to creating better working and living environments for people, Verosol’s long-standing membership of the Green Building Council of Australia – and the support of green building programs such as Greenstar, LEED, WELL and BREEAM with points thanks to products using performance fabrics, what is your sustainability goal right now? And what role do certifications play in advancing the program?

Accountability and transparency are extremely important to us. The majority of our core products are Global Green Tag certified as well as GREENGUARD Gold certified, and hold an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) and a Health Product Declaration (HPD). This commitment to transparency is also why we already provide energy reports, which show both energy and cost savings, and we are about to start publishing neutrality reports. carbon. So when you buy and install one of our products, we’ll tell you how many days until it becomes carbon neutral.

We are also committed to ensuring that our supply chain is sustainable. We work with various organizations, such as Global Green Tag, who thoroughly check the supply chain – from the chemicals used on the wire to our factories and production practices – before awarding certification. We recently completed work with Global Green Tag on environmental best practice PVC for our PVC-based metallized performance screen fabrics. I believe we are the only brand in Australia to currently hold a Best Practice PVC rating for internal window coverings.

As part of their strong sustainability profile, performance fabrics can help advance environmentally sustainable design frameworks. How can Verosol products help achieve this goal?

This is particularly exciting for us because it really goes back to Verosol’s founding principles and focus on environments inside buildings.

Our metallic shades do two important things. The main thing everyone thinks about is the fact that they can reflect up to 85% of solar radiation, which significantly reduces the energy needed to cool the building. But in the colder months, our blinds can also be used to harvest the sun. You can put them up to let the sun in, then pull down the blinds to keep the heat in. So there are energy and cost savings where heating is also involved.

Thus, our products can help provide a healthier indoor environment by maintaining a constant climate inside the building and minimizing heat and glare, while reducing CO2 and energy consumption throughout the building. – without obstructing the view or access to natural light. Thus, they can reduce the environmental impact of construction, generate a healthier environment – and improve energy efficiency while reducing costs. A recent project that used our products saved over half a million dollars.

Window coverings can help industry professionals exceed the energy efficiency requirements of Section J of the National Building Code (NCC 2019). Why is it so important to go beyond compliance itself and what role can automation play in getting there?

The standards set out in Section J are the bare minimum, and it is crucial to go beyond them. Our performance products can certainly help them exceed these basic requirements – and the best way to achieve best practice in window coverings is to use high performance products with automation technology.

The combination of motorization, automation and window upholstery offers enormous advantages with high performance fabrics. There is a symbiotic relationship here that makes it possible to have the best performing textiles on a window in the right place, at the right time, all the time – and without human intervention. And it really is the epitome of integration between humans and their living and working environments – regardless of industry vertical.

These opportunities around J-section, ESD, and automation underscore the importance of education in navigating some of the complexities of industry. Verosol is the only window covering company with formerly accredited CPDs. Two are already on the market – and two more will arrive by the end of the year. Why is education so important from your point of view?

One of the biggest misconceptions is that a blind is just a blind. It’s really important to give industry professionals the right information so they can make more informed and better choices. That’s why one of our CPDs is an introduction to window furnishings. It builds a basic understanding of colors and furniture types – and insight into how window solutions can make or break a project.

Likewise, we are passionate about educating the industry on the potential of high performance solutions in the context of ESD, where passive design and workplace comfort are concerned. As an extension of this, we try to take the fear out of the J-section and our CPD offers thoughtful solutions on how to take a project to the next level and reduce construction costs along the way.

Our next CPD will focus on the importance of automation and motorization. With the ability to connect to the lighting system, building management system (BMS), electronic devices or phone app, it’s really important to educate the industry on what automation can and cannot. can’t do, how to go about it – and how to maximize its benefits in conjunction with performance fabrics.

And the last DPC we are working on is sustainability and certifications. This is something we hope to engage both Global Green Tag and Green Building Council of Australia, to help architects, designers and specifiers understand the different levels of certifications and offer guidance on what to look for. .

And what does the future hold – for and with Verosol?

As strong supporters of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, we are clearly on the path to sustainability. We focus on features and ways of doing business that advance this goal. We also want to continue to produce products that continually push the boundaries of design and performance, which includes providing new window covering solutions to allow architects and designers to be creative and not have to hold back on great design.

As a result, working with architects and designers will become a much more important part of our business in the future, as we want to work with the people who use our products and give them the design freedom they need to deliver outstanding and exceptionally long-lasting results. .

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