A key sustainability challenge for anyone involved in commissioning, designing or manufacturing wayfinding signs, is to think well beyond day one. To future -proof and lengthen the operational life of the information, by really exploring what the likely requirements will be in 2, 5 or 10 years’ time and factoring these into the design. All the while recognising that at some point, the scheme will have outlived its useful life and designing sign forms so that component materials can be easily recovered to be recycled or repurposed.
When specifying a new wayfinding system, it’s important to factor in the ongoing maintenance costs. Beyond ensuring the physical infrastructure is safe and kept in good order, you need to think about how frequently the information may need updating; the extent of likely changes; how critical the response time will be and budget. Feeding these into the design process will help ensure that the scheme is affordable over the long-term.
Selecting truly sustainable materials for wayfinding signs is challenging. It’s rarely a clear-cut choice – with low carbon products or processes often having a negative impact on some other aspect of the environment. A holistic, whole life view is needed, where designers and fabricators work closely to reduce waste; explore latest materials; consider end of life disposal and focus on improving the environmental performance of processes.
When it comes to sustainable wayfinding design – material selection and dematerialisation strategies are an obvious focus. However, to ensure that the end result is fit for purpose, future proofed and contributes positively to the overall aesthetic and enjoyment of a place, the most important factors are the underpinning strategy and design.