April 22, 2013 will mark the 43rd anniversary of the global movement known as Earth Day. Even though most of us alive in 1970 still thought the word “green” referred to a color, there’s no doubt that in 2013 the event sets off an annual maelstrom of attention surrounding all things “green.”
And with the International Code Council recently passing the first ever International Green Construction Code (IGCC) with its implications for signage, it seems an appropriate time to look at what the sign industry is doing to minimize its carbon footprint and protect the environment. So here’s a closer look at some things the sign industry is doing to be more eco-friendly—and that you can check to see if your preferred signage provider is implementing if sustainability is a priority for you.
Best Practices in Sustainable Sign Design and Production:
Life cycle. Although typically not the first thing that comes to mind, this can be one of the simplest ways to reduce environmental impact. The idea is simple: the longer a sign stays in use, the less it adds to the waste cycle. Things that can extend life cycle include choosing durable signage materials as well as using modular and other sign designs that allow components to be updated without replacing the entire sign every time.
Production. Today’s technologies have greatly improved digital printing and image production standards. Image printers with water-based paints and coatings with no harsh chemicals and volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) are becoming the norm rather than the exception. Additionally, improved cutting and other signage production techniques maximize material usage and yield less waste.
Installation. Another less-than-obvious way to provide eco-friendly signage is through installation methods. For instance, by choosing mechanical fasteners over adhesives, it can be easier to update signs (see Life Cycle above) while also eliminating VOC’s commonly found in adhesives.
Lighting. While there’s no doubt that signage sometimes needs to be illuminated to be effective, the type of illumination method you choose has a significant impact on the energy used. Solar-powered exterior lighting is the best option, but LED displays are another good option thanks to its vastly improved life span of up to 10 years.
Recycling. It will come as no surprise to anyone that a core tenet of any successful green signage approach is recycling – and fortunately there are many options available. From material take-back programs from leading brands like HP to recycling scrap materials, it’s becoming easier than ever to successfully recycle. And cutting edge closed loop recycling like that offered by flooring supplier Mannington Mills’ LOOP program can now even repurpose unusual materials such as post-use adhesive-backed graphic materials (think balled up, peeled off wraps) to be used as a binding agent in tile flooring materials, as they did after the Vancouver Olympics.
Finally, it’s important to remember that “green” practices that work in other industries may not work in signage. For instance, popular green building materials like bamboo may not meet fire and building codes or work with tactile letters and raised Braille characters to comply with accessibility sign guidelines.
Happy Earth Day!
In early January, Arlon Graphics unveiled its worldwide Arlon Application Contest, which asked clients to submit photos of recent custom signage or wrap projects completed using Arlon Vinyl to the company’s Facebook page. Crystal Martin, a graphic designer at Signs By Tomorrow of Brentwood, submitted a photo of a vehicle wrap the center produced for a landscape company.
“I submitted this project because we were able to bring an old van back to life using bright, colorful graphics that made the final wrap really pop,” says Martin. “The client was ecstatic with the results of the wrap and receives many compliments from onlookers.” Martin says the final vehicle wrap design was produced using Arlon 6000XRP Repositionable vinyl.
“Arlon’s iPad Application contest was a first time worldwide contest held by Arlon. We were so pleased to see the submissions that were sent in but Crystal’s submission was a very creative wrap design and really complimented the vehicle. Arlon is very happy to award Crystal with the winning prize of an Apple iPad,” states Holly Curtis, director of marketing communications for Arlon Graphics.