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Brebey wins green business award "VII Premio Impresa Ambiente"

Sheep wool panels 
On 16 April 2014, at the Chamber of Commerce in Rome, Sardinian startup Brebey received the VII green business prize "Premio Impresa Ambiente" for its project "Techno-wool: innovation and ecology for a sustainable future". Among the 228 contestants, the prizes went to Brebey for the category "Best sustainable process/technology", to Carlsberg Italia for "Best sustainable management system", to ENI for "Best sustainable product" and to Ikea Italia Retail for "Best International Cooperation".

The Prize is the highest recognition in Italy for innovative businesses focused on sustainable development. The winners in each category and the runners-up who received a special commendation are automatically nominated as entrants for the European Business Award for the Environment, a prestigious European award scheme fostering sustainable innovation in industry.

The jury of the Italian prize gave this reason for choosing Brebey: "This enterprise developed a sheep wool panel using an innovative technology to obtain a product with excellent thermal insulation and sound absorption properties. The benefits of Brebey's technology for wool panel production include: better texture, elastic structure and stable shape compared to other wool-based insulating products, whose felt is slack and loose. This compact, structured and elastic panel with a wide range of densities and thicknesses can also find applications in the textile and clothing industries, in geotechnics and in industrial pollution remediation".

"Our idea was inspired by the growing demand for energy-saving solutions in Europe: to date, the market of insulating materials for the building sector, especially in Italy, has been almost entirely monopolised by petrochemical products, which are polluting and whose life cycle has heavy environmental impacts. We are bringing to the market a high-tech insulation product based on natural wool which performs on a par with chemical industry products". This is what Pierluigi Damiani, Brebey's operations manager told us. "Moreover, Brebey, which has been designed for applications in line with the standards of bio-architecture (it has already received heat and noise insulation certifications and is currently being certified as a bio-ecological product by Italian accreditation bodies ANAB-ICEA) has excellent thermal and acoustic insulating properties and is easy to install, which makes it a perfect answer to the requirements of builders looking for sustainable and easy-to-use technologies".

According to Brebey's managing director, Biancarosa Damiani "Our product also has interesting applications in the textile sector: it can be used as a padding for quilted jackets instead of down or polyester (which is a synthetic product with a highly polluting production process), with great benefits for the environment. Without the technology developed by Brebey – adds the company's CEO – this use would not be feasible, because the current technologies for making felt and wool panels are unable to achieve sufficient strength and density for this kind of use".

Brebey is a startup founded in late 2012 as a cooperative. It is based in Decimomannu, near Cagliari, and is managed by local entrepreneur Biancarosa Damiani. Leveraging on the decades-long experience in the textile industry gained by her father, Pierluigi Damiani, also a coop member, starting in 2006 they engaged in research to create an ecological insulating material based on sheep wool, using a more advanced production technology than the existing one (which could only produce non-compact wool felt, difficult to use and with a limited range of applications).

This innovation effort led to a patented technology for the production of an ecological sheep-wool panel which is elastic and maintains a stable shape. Several applications are currently being developed. To date, this technology has yielded two products: "Tecnolana", insulating panels for the green building industry, and "Lanotto" padding material for the clothing industry.

Startup Brebey was one of the winners of the latest call launched by Sardegna Ricerche under its Programme of "Aid to Innovative Startups". Brebey's products are also listed in the "Catalogue of natural and sustainable products", another initiative by Sardegna Ricerche.

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