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A Green Choice for Eco-Conscious Public Art

Updated: Apr 19, 2022

ALTO powder-coated graphics mural with abstract plant and nature theme.
Canyon Dreamscape by Olalekan Jeyifous was inspired by the local flora and fauna. Photo by Charles White.

Public art can do a lot of good to support the environment. Everything from murals to installations draw attention to the places that make up our communities, creating a sense of pride and connection, and from there, a drive to keep those spaces beautiful.

The process and materials for public art can also be environmentally conscious. Sourcing eco-responsible materials for public art projects is increasingly important as we consider how our projects impact the health and safety of people and the planet.

These issues have led us here at ALTO™ Aluminum to develop a product that meets the needs of our clients but is also as green as possible.

Less replacing, less waste

One of the benefits of aluminum, the core of our product, is that it is incredibly long lasting. For many applications, long-term durability is essential to avoid replacing panels that could end up faded, damaged or rusted.

Aluminum, as a metal, doesn’t rust or corrode, and is incredibly resistant to humidity, heat and cold weather conditions. It does not degrade like other traditional mural or panel materials, like wood, HPL and other metals.

ALTO powder-coated graphics mural with abstract orange triangle design.
Downey City Library Entry Container Mural by NAC Architecture. ALTO™ makes this project easy to maintain, even in a public space..

Aluminum is one material you can be confident using in almost any environment, and not worrying about temperature extremes or weather conditions affecting the signs or panels for years.

Public art projects can really benefit from this, as some pieces are part of shorter festivals or cultural programs and will eventually be taken down. As with anything in a public place, site needs and uses change over time. Knowing that aluminum can be recycled and reused instead of discarded makes an investment in a quality material make sense, even for projects with shorter life spans.

Recyclable Aluminum

The core of our product is aluminum, an infinitely recyclable material. This means that no matter how many times it is used, melted down and reformed, it retains all its great properties. Also, because aluminum is a lightweight metal, it is easy to ship, handle and move as the need arises, with less stress on the environment.

ALTO powder-coated graphics panels in colorful shapes of geese, mountains and the sun
Mémoire d'un paysage by Pat & Miki. Geese flying over a landscape reflect a love of the natural world.

Panels that are no longer relevant can be turned into something entirely new. No matter what the lifespan of an installation, there’s peace of mind knowing that it can be recycled into something new.

An eco-responsible process

Part of what makes ALTO™ so safe and sustainable is the powder-coating process. It is extremely durable and fortunately, it is a very clean process that is safe not only for the environment, but the people who us and work with the products.

Powder-coatings do not contain any solvents and emit very little, if any VOC’s. Our powder-coating process is also TGIC free and doesn’t contain heavy metals like lead or cadmium, as is the case with some exterior paints.

Due to our process, we don’t need to apply any finishes, varnishes or coatings (like resins, UV coatings or any protective varnishes), that contain harmful chemicals that can affect people with health concerns or wash off the panels and contaminate the surrounding environment.

Powder-coated products are recommended for use indoors and out, even in spaces with strict air quality standards like schools, hospitals and laboratories. A further eco-friendly benefit of powder-coating is the fact that overspray can be collected and reused, so there is far less waste and exhaust during the process.

Chemical-free cleaning

No matter where it is installed, ALTO™ can be easily cleaned and maintained without using heavy-duty detergents or toxic cleaning products. It’s as easy as using soap and water, or for tougher stains, a mild household cleaning product is enough. Grease, oil and glue stains can be removed with rubbing alcohol.

ALTO powder-coated graphics panels with colorful collages of fairy take images.
Turlututu, chapeau pointu by Marianne Chevalier. Installed in an elementary school, there are no coatings or chemicals that would be unsafe for children.

As can be expected, panels in public places are sometimes the target of graffiti. We recommend an organic graffiti and adhesive remover to remove marks and paint, and because of the nature of the powder-coated aluminum, graffiti is easily removed.

Making Green Choices

As communities, cities and institutions continue to enhance their environments with public art projects and doing so in a safe, responsible way, the right materials will help support eco-conscious practices and messages.


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