Barbara Boxer gives environmental hero award to George W. Bush library

Sen. Barbara Boxer was down in Texas Monday, handing out her inaugural Climate Hero Award to the George W. Bush presidential library for its environmentally friendly design.

The liberal California Democrat, environmental agitator and frequent foe of the former president, was received in Dallas by former First Lady Laura Bush, who accepted the award on behalf of the Bush Center. Our source at the event said the former First Lady gave Boxer a personal tour of the building and grounds, pointing out native prairie grasses along the way.

Laura Bush was on the design committee for the library, the first presidential library to receive the top environmental certification, known as LEED Platinum.

Boxer, who chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee, will also give the award to the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Ark. She plans to visit the Clinton Library, which modified its original design to get platinum certification, later this year.

“It is really terrific to receive the inaugural Climate Hero Award from Senator Boxer,” the former First Lady said in a statement. “It recognizes how hard we worked to achieve LEED Platinum certification.”

LEED Platinum is the highest designation awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design. The Bush Center is the first presidential library to receive the platinum designation.

Our source at the event said the building and its grounds are a showpiece of sustainable building, integrating architecture and materials to raise energy efficiency. The building has an underground cistern to recycle rain water, a green roof, and solar energy to heat water. All its materials come from a 500 mile radius.

Laura Bush often appeared to be more interested in the environment than her husband, whose record was condemned by environmental activists. It should be noted, however, that W. protected more ocean habitat than any of his predecessors, including a 138,000-square-mile marine national monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and the 195,000 square mile Mariana Trench Marine National Monument, reportedly at his wife’s urging.

Boxer said the Bush Center “has demonstrated true leadership in making energy conservation a top priority.” The award is based on design, construction, maintenance and operation.

Boxer is co-chair of the Senate Climate Change Clearinghouse, a group of Senators that meets to discuss climate change science and policy. The group established the award to recognize environmental leadership. Boxer was excited to hear both presidential libraries had won the top LEED certification, and when she contacted the Bush Center, Laura Bush invited her down for a tour and ceremony.

“It was a lovely, lovely event,” our California source said. “It could not have been better.”

Laura Bush and Barbara Boxer

Laura Bush and Barbara Boxer

Carolyn Lochhead