How to Implement A Sustainable Signage Project

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Signage plays a crucial role in communication, branding, and wayfinding. However, traditional signage practices often come with significant environmental drawbacks, such as resource depletion, pollution, and waste generation. As global awareness of sustainability grows, there’s an increasing demand for eco-friendly signage solutions.   

Implementing a sustainable signage strategy involves a holistic approach that considers all lifecycle stages of a signage project:  

Planning 

  • Set Sustainability Goals: Establish clear objectives and define key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the project’s environmental impact and track progress towards sustainability targets.
  • Conduct a comprehensive site assessment to understand environmental factors, potential impacts, and opportunities. This information can inform decisions regarding signage placement, materials, and energy usage.
  • Involve stakeholders, including clients, designers, contractors, and end-users, in the planning process. Encourage collaboration and open communication to ensure that sustainability goals are understood and integrated into all aspects.
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Wayfinding

  • Wayfinding is the process or activity of navigating and orienting oneself within an environment. Be rigorous in your wayfinding development, as it will help keep signs to a minimum.
  • Consider engaging a wayfinding specialist and using wayfinding software that can efficiently map routes, adapt to modelling, and allow you to test different implementations.

Material Selection 

  • Prioritise sustainable materials, including recycled content, reclaimed waste, or materials produced from certified raw materials such as Forest Stewardship Council (FSC®) wood. Select materials with a documented environmental impact via, i.e., Product Carbon Footprint (PCF) or Environmental Product Declarations (EPD).
  • Avoid materials containing toxic chemicals or hazardous substances that could harm the environment or people during production, use or disposal. Ensure the materials are safe for users and compliant with European REACH regulation, S. Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)or similar.
  • Choose locally supplied materials with a traceable supply chain. This will reduce the volume of fossil fuels from transportation and help you understand where the material comes from and how it is made.

Energy-Efficient Lighting 

  • Choose LED lighting for illuminated signs due to their energy efficiency and longevity. 
  •  Implement lighting controls such as motion sensors or timers to reduce energy consumption when signage is not in use. 
  • Utilize natural lighting wherever possible to minimize the need for artificial illumination. 
Modulex signs are designed so customers can now replace their signage by replacing chocolate components.

Design   

  • Optimize sign designs for longevity, aiming for timeless aesthetics that won’t require frequent updates or replacements. Embrace minimalist design principles to reduce material usage and create visually impactful signage. 
  • Incorporate biophilic design elements to connect people with nature, fostering a sense of well-being and environmental awareness. 
  • Look for modular products that are 100% up-cyclable and upgradable. Modulex sign systems are designed so customers can renew their signage by easily replacing obsolete components to renovate the design, extending the lifetime of signage. This promotes waste reduction and ensures old components can be recovered for reuse or recycled separately.
  • Ensure your graphic printing uses GreenGuard Gold-certified inks, which guarantees low VOC emissions. When it comes to vinyl, look for PVC-free options.

Manufacture 

  • Choose a production partner who has sustainability credentials, such as ISO 14001, and discloses their environmental and social Prioritise suppliers who embrace Lean manufacturing principles and engage with ESG practices. 
  • Work with manufacturers who continuously measure and reduce the environmental impacts from production: water use, materials, production processes and treatments, paint & inks, waste, packaging, energy use, and resource efficiency.
  • Choose manufacturers who prioritize renewable and sustainable substrates in favour of harmful materials like acrylics, PVC, or ACMs. Ask producers for documentation disclosing product impact and supply chain traceability.
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Installation and Maintenance 

  • Choose installation methods that minimize damage to the surrounding environment and infrastructure.
  •  Implement regular maintenance schedules to ensure signage remains in optimal condition, reducing the need for premature replacements. 

End-of-Life Considerations  

  • Design signage systems with disassembly and recycling in mind, facilitating the responsible disposal of materials at the end of their lifespan. Explore opportunities for repurposing or upcycling signage components to extend their usefulness and reduce waste.
  • Plan for flexibility and adaptability: anticipate future changes and plan for solutions that can adapt to evolving needs. Select modular signage systems that allow for easy updates without the need for complete replacements.
  • Partner with signage companies like Modulex and join take-back programs that ensure that signage materials are reused, repurposed, or recycled at the end of their lifecycle. 

Lifecycle Analysis 

  • Conduct a lifecycle assessment to evaluate the environmental impacts of signage materials and processes from sourcing to disposal.
  • Use carbon modeling strategies to calculate the embodied carbon within a signage project and identify opportunities for improvement and innovation to minimize environmental footprint throughout the signage lifecycle. 

 

Conclusion 

Implementing a sustainable signage strategy requires a proactive approach that considers environmental, social, and economic factors throughout the signage lifecycle. By prioritizing sustainable materials, energy-efficient lighting, thoughtful design, and responsible production and end-of-life practices, signage solutions can minimize environmental impact while maximizing brand value and customer engagement.  

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