Stephen R. Covey coined the term "Begin with the end in mind" in his famous in this book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Although his focus is on personal characteristics that lead to an individuals effectiveness, the same principal can be said for building sustainable signage and wayfinding.
Beginning with the end in mind is an important part of reducing waste and land fill contribution and is unique to each project that gets built and designed. A typical commercial interior may change design and signage every 3 years. The occupants of an office building may move offices several time over a 2-3 year span. How do these things impact sustainability and overall design in the begining?
If a sign is intended to hold up over 10-20 years is it OK to use less environmentally friendly materials to reduce the waste associated with making the sign multiple times? Even so, how will the sign be maintained and ultimately disposed of?
Why are so many wall mounted signs taped on the wall with adhesives that will destroy the wall once removed when everyone knows that the life of the sign will be shorter than the wall itself?
Can the sign system being designed be built in a custom way that allows only the portion of the sign that will change to be replaced without removing the entire sign? If so, does this change the way replaceable components are made so it can easily be recycled or re-used?
We ask many of these questions everyday and give in to our client for multiple reason including budget. Many times we know that throughout the life cycle of a project, changing things upfront saves a lot of money. This is the job of sign professional to educate and consult with clients to understand the big picture of these packages. It all start with the end - how do you get somewhere if you never look to see where you're going, especially when sustainability is concerned.