Scenic City Certification
Scenic Texas developed the Scenic City Certification Program after discovering that the success of a city’s economic development efforts is directly linked with its public spaces’ visual appearance. The Scenic City Program recognizes Texas municipalities that implement high-quality scenic standards for public roadways and spaces. It also incentivizes cities to adopt and enforce the kind of criteria that enhance economic development and improve quality of life.
A city may apply to earn certification if it already has:
a strictly regulated and enforced sign code,
a ban on new billboards, and
a landscaping and tree planting program.
A city earns points for these required elements, and builds additional points by providing evidence for existing municipal ordinances, regulations, and programs that show the city’s commitment to scenic standards. Certification levels are Recognized, Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum.
The Scenic City application contains 71 criteria that award points, including requirements for parkland designation, landscaping, sign restrictions, litter prevention, street lighting standards, and more. Cities may also provide evidence for additional programs that could be evaluated for their scenic merits (e.g. historic preservation, beach/lake/river cleanups, retention basins, scenic programs related to unique geographic features).
The Scenic City Certification Program believes that any city’s citizens are entitled to a green, uncluttered, visually appealing place to live, work, and play – a truly Scenic City.
Dark Skies Initiative
Light pollution is any adverse effect of artificial light, including sky glow, glare, light trespass, decreased visibility at night, energy waste, and more.
COSTS: In the United States $10s of billions annually in electricity costs are wasted shining lights upward at night. These numbers do not include the costs of harvesting fossil fuels to generate electricity.
ENERGY CONSUMPTION: Most of the energy required to power all of the wasted light comes from burning fossil fuels, contributing to other types of pollution.
HEALTH: New studies point to dramatic health consequences from the disruption of the natural human day/night cycle. Unnatural light at night affects hormone production and reduces the strength of the immune system.
SAFETY: Vision is impaired by "glare" from overly bright light sources, reducing sensitivity to fine details and color perception, especially in elderly people. Brighter lights cause shadows to appear darker.
THE ENVIRONMENT: Artificial light at night has been shown to disrupt the mating, migration, and hunting behaviors of many different species, and consequently the ecological community as a whole.
LOSS OF NIGHTTIME SKY: The view of stars and dark night skies is rapidly being lost. Generations are growing up having never seen the Milky Way. Sky glow resulting from artificial lighting dramatically hinders the science of astronomy.
One house doesn’t make much of a difference compared to an entire city and large retail complexes. The best way to make a significant difference is to help your local government create a new lighting ordinance that regulates lighting practices on a large scale. An excellent resource is the International Dark-sky Association.