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2020 Makers of Tomorrow: Simon Nussbaum

This 3D printing innovator wants to prove you can make green by going green.





Age: 39
Job: General Manager, Green Dot Sign (Saint Paul, MN)
After work: Nussbaum is fond of fishing, hiking, camping and spending time with his two sons.
Quote to know: “We’re trying to make every effort we can to make as minimal of an impact as possible environmentally, but as maximum of an impact as possible visually.”

WHILE SOME COMPANIES tout their “green” campaigns by promoting standard recycling and the occasional use of eco-friendly substrates, Simon Nussbaum has made sustainability the beating heart of his company. Just over a year ago, Nussbaum started Green Dot Sign, which fabricates sustainable, ADA-compliant signage. Nussbaum has even developed his own patent-pending production process in the name of environmental responsibility. The epiphany occurred when Nussbaum was operating his Image360 franchise in 2015. “We were making a pile of what was going into the dumpster. There was this huge piece of polycarbonate. It took two people to get it into the dumpster,” Nussbaum recalled. “I was looking at it and said, ‘That’s going to be in a landfill unchanged for thousands and thousands of years.’ That’s when I started to come up with ways to do things a little bit better.”

Green Dot’s sign fabrication method is centered on 3D-printing raised ADA content directly to wood blanks. “It penetrates into the wood fibers, so there’s no adhesive or machining. That’s the core of it,” Nussbaum said. “The wood is all sustainably sourced to promote rural economies, and forestry in general.” Customers can either purchase ready-to-order signs or custom signs.

Nussbaum is engaged on multiple fronts to prove and nourish his company’s commitment to sustainability. On Green Dot’s website is a downloadable, environmental scientist-written white paper, which confirms that each sign produced by Green Dot keeps 250 grams (or nearly nine ounces) of plastic from being used. The signs themselves can contribute to LEED building certification credits. For its ready-to-order ADA signs and most of its custom signs, Green Dot uses Forest Stewardship Council 100% certified wood. Green Dot also has a recycling program where its signs can be returned in exchange for a 10% credit on the client’s next order.

Nussbaum hopes to serve as an example to his compatriots in the sign industry, proving that it’s possible to be more green-conscious with your processes while also running a successful business. “Sign people are very creative by nature. I would like to have everyone apply that creativity into being a little more responsible with how we make things from an environmental perspective,” he said. “If we all made that 10% of what we thought about for a year, it would make a huge difference.”




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