Health, Safety & Sustainability
Since Highpoint’s doors first opened to the public in 2001, we have been dedicated to maintaining a safe and healthy facility for our staff, users, and visitors while remaining mindful of our impact on the environment. We have put the days of highly toxic solvents like benzene, toluene, kerosene, lacquer thinner, and others behind us. Highpoint supplies a few specific solvents to its users such as odorless mineral spirits, acetone, and denatured alcohol—all of which are the least toxic in their class—and we do not allow others to be brought into the shop. Highpoint staff worked for more than two years with Glen Nelson of Bioforce Inc. to develop the nontoxic, soy-based Press Pro as our first line solvent, replacing 95% of the need for volatile organic solvents. Not only does our use of Press Pro keep Highpoint’s air cleaner, it also minimizes the need to exhaust solvent fumes outside. Our shop rags are picked up bi-weekly by Cintas Services so that they can be laundered and reused. Click here for information about Cintas' environmental sustainability and stewardship initiatives.
Beyond our responsible use of solvents, Highpoint is committed to reducing our generation of waste and we upcycle and recycle everything we possibly can. We have opted to use only water-soluble inks for screenprinting, school-age classes, Free Ink Day, and community events. Additionally, we use ferric chloride to etch copper plates. Ferric chloride is a good, clean-biting mordant that doesn’t pose the same dangers as traditional acids which may emit toxic fumes, cause skin burns, and introduce harmful chemicals to our wastewater. Another advantage is ferric chloride’s long lifespan. Etchants such as nitric and Dutch mordant last a fraction as long and result in hundreds of gallons of spent solution. Our minuscule amount of ferric chloride waste allows HP to pay for hazardous waste treatment disposal rather than neutralizing our baths and dumping them down the drain—which unfortunately is common practice in printshops.
The entirety of Highpoint's galleries, dedicated display areas, and the majority of our artist cooperative and professional printshop have been fitted with LED light fixtures. These fixtures closely mimic daylight and provide superior illumination while using a small fraction (about 20%) of the energy that incandescent, fluorescent, and halogen fixtures consume.
The area behind our building and surrounding our parking lot have been transformed into rain gardens. Designed by Kinji Akagawa with Field Outdoor Spaces, the rain gardens feature native plants, decorative rock features, and a bird bath. These green spaces collect and filter the approximately 200,000 gallons of rain water and snow melt that runs off the impermeable surfaces on our property (roof, sidewalk, parking lot) each year. This water would otherwise enter the storm drain along with any pollutants it gathered. Our rain gardens promote the health our watershed, provide urban habitat for pollinators and other wildlife, function as an educational space for school groups, finally, they greatly beautify our outdoor space. The containers filled with annual flowers, herbs, and vegetables greet our visitors (including many pollinator species!) during the warmer months.