Green Resources Archive

The SEGD Green Audit

The SEGD Green Audit process was developed by the SEGD Sustainability Forum to provide a consistent framework for evaluating and articulating the sustainable strategies, materials, and processes used in environmental graphic design projects. Green Audit classification categories include:

▪    Materials/Products: elements such as paints, substrates, inks, solar panels, and modular signs

▪    Processes/Approaches: fabrication and manufacturing approaches and design innovations

▪    Projects: stand-alone projects and EGD projects inside larger “green” programs


The SEGD Green Paper provides more details about the Green Audit process.

List of Green Audits:

▪    SunEdison City Tour

▪    Varia Ecoresin

▪    Modular Curved Frame Technology

▪    Eco ae02 Sign Series

▪    MAP-LV Acrylic Polyurethane Paint Series

▪    Evo Element

▪    Tampa Riverwalk

▪    Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas

▪    Wenger Store Prototype


White Papers

Life Cycle Assessment

by Naomi Pearson

Life Cycle Assessment is a methodology for evaluating the environmental impact of materials and processes used during the following stages: extraction or harvesting of raw materials through processing, manufacture, installation, use, and ultimate disposal or recycling. The EPA defines the exercise of LCA as a technique to assess the environmental aspects and potential impacts associated with a product, process, or service, by:

▪    Compiling an inventory of relevant energy and material inputs and environmental releases;

▪    Evaluating the potential environmental impacts associated with identified inputs and releases; and

▪    Interpreting the results to help you make a more informed decision.


LCA has emerged as a highly effective method for designers and manufacturers measuring environmental impact. For example, the U.S. Green Building Council has taken steps to incorporate LCA thinking into LEED standards. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the world's largest developer and publisher of International Standards, recommends LCA principals for environmental management. LCA software such as Okala (by Sustainable Minds) and SimaPro are now available for use by industrial designers. The environmental graphic design field also benefits by applying LCA methodologies to make environmentally preferable design and fabrication decisions.

While LCA is a practice that can be applied universally to all design fields, there is a specific set of LCA-associated considerations for those in the environmental graphic design field. Signage longevity is a consideration relating to the "disposal or recycling" stage of LCA. As discussed in the SEGD Green Paper, longevity is a key environmental factor because the lifespan of environmental graphics tends to vary from a few days to 50 years. A short life span is best served by a sustainable plan for disposal or recycling of signage components. Another LCA stage with specific considerations for signage is the "use" stage. "Use" represents energy used during the lifetime of a product or service. In some signage cases, the type of lighting and/or electronic component determines how much energy will be used. Strategies for minimizing the amount of energy used over time should be considered. These are just two examples of how looking at Life Cycle Assessment stages can be used to break down, better understand, and mitigate the environmental impacts of what we produce. With further analysis, LCA becomes a valuable tool for the environmental graphic design field.


The Role of Value Engineering in Environmental Graphic Design

by Harry Spetnagel, Gensler and John Souter, Accent Signage Systems

The design and construction process is in the midst of fundamental change, and because a substantial proportion of EGD work takes place within the framework of a larger design and construction process, it is important to understand the point of view of the stakeholders involved. The role of environmental graphic designers and fabricators in this dynamic environment is to build the constructs by which our clients can make informed decisions as they relate to value and cost. In order to understand how best to achieve this, we need to look closely at a process known as value engineering (VE).

VE is a systematic method to improve the "value" of goods, products, or services by examining function. Value, as defined, is the ratio of function to cost, therefore value can be increased by either improving the function or reducing the cost. It is a primary tenet of value engineering that basic functions be preserved and not be reduced as a consequence of pursuing only cost improvements. While we can all argue the subtle nuance and semantics of this definition, perhaps we can all agree that this process is tied to the intrinsic relationship between “Value/Function” and Cost.

Sustainability is another aspect that needs to be considered. Increased focus on efficient and responsible use of resources and energy is driving us all to be more informed in our designs and the methods and processes used in fabrication. SEGD’s Green Paper outlines several ways EGD designers and fabricators can engage in more sustainable practices; fabricators are becoming more focused on material efficiency, modularity, recyclability, and reducing the power consumption of their manufacturing processes. All of these functions have a direct correlation to value and cost and are therefore an essential part of the Value Engineering process.



by Danny Schneider

Modularity is an approach to signage that utilizes a pre-constructed array of parts that can be individually engineered for cost effectiveness. Modularity is the most common green practice utilized by designers and fabricators today. Modularity enhances the green process in the following areas:

▪    Using standard materials decreases waste in the manufacturing process.

▪    Physical locks and connectors minimize the use of adhesives.

▪    Modularity makes materials easier to separate into component parts.

▪    Green materials can be easily integrated into the design process.

Designers, fabricators, and manufacturers have developed the following design approaches to modularity:

Focus on shared design elements
Early in the design process it is important to focus on the shared elements of sign systems. By focusing on shared elements, greater efficiency can be achieved with fabricated parts.

Use of simple but flexible stock material sizes

The development of standard-sized frames and connector parts and pieces allows modular signs to be easily taken apart and reused. These basic building blocks also allow for extensive customization in signs. During the design process, it is important to focus on using standard size and modular materials.

Removal of adhesives from the process
Adhesives and glues make the recycling of materials more difficult. Most modular signs use rails, tension, bolts, and locks to connect materials.

Use of green materials
Another advantage of modular systems is that individual materials can be easily separated from one another. Through the design development process, it is important to research all materials for their green properties. These include frames, printed inserts, paints, and substrates.

Guidelines for ongoing management and maintenance

It is not enough to just select sustainable materials. It is also important that clear guidelines are put in place for material disposal and recycling. It is also important to develop relationships with modular sign and material manufacturers to involve them in the management process.

Three Key Trends in the Development of Modular Signs

Modular Curved Frame Technology and the minimization of connectors
Modular Curved Frame Technology (MCFT) is a modular manufactured sign system that utilizes pre-manufactured curved frames to connect a variety of graphic and material components parts utilizing tension as a locking mechanism. Sign professionals developed MCFT as part of the evolution in modular signs to minimize waste and maximize custom design approaches.

3form and green substrates

3form is the most well-known company pioneering the development of green substrate materials that can be integrated into modular signs. These green materials can be easily removed from the modular sign and returned to the manufacturer for recycling.

Combining local materials with shipped modular elements
Many times modular frames and connectors are delivered from great distances, but many designers have begun to combine these elements with local materials and processes. At the same time, modular sign companies have focused on using lighter and easier-to-ship materials that can be easily combined with local surface materials and substrates.


Green Interpretation

by Craig Johnson

Green interpretation and education is a crucial ingredient to all sustainable projects. Because most sustainable projects are not clearly visible,

▪    Use a dynamic media approach to interpretive stories that engages visitors and keeps the information current and relevant.

▪    Integrate interactive media that supports visitor participation and creation with content to enhance comprehension and retention.

▪    Link all interpretive media to the immediate space, the local environment and greater community that’s to which it is connected.

▪    Infuse a message of call to action within the interpretive media programs that inspires visitors to implement the insights that they are learning in their daily life.

Celebrate the message of positive and effective change.

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