George W. Bush, the 43rd U.S. president, made his mark in Texas earlier in his career through oil exploration. Now under construction, the George W. Bush Presidential Center at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas seeks to become a landmark of energy efficiency. Dedicated to preserving the artifacts and history of the Bush presidency, the $250-million library complex is designed to achieve LEED Platinum certification, a rare honor in the state.

"We opted to go for platinum, partly because we wanted to do it as a challenge and due to the high profile of the project," says Peter E. Arendt, director of design and construction for the George W. Bush Foundation. "We figured if anyone was going to make a statement for energy conservation and utilization of our natural resources, it ought to be one of our former presidents and leaders of the country."

Arendt adds that earning LEED Platinum is tough for a museum and archival building, because of the specialized temperature- and humidity-controlled climate required. "Museums with archives tend to be resource- and energy-intensive," says Graham Wyatt, project partner with Robert A.M. Stern Architects, the library's New York City-based architect.

To achieve that level, Wyatt says the project team was ambitious and pursued a variety of sustainable elements. "It's a huge tribute to the president and first lady and the George W. Bush Library Foundation that they are setting their sights at a high level: LEED Platinum certification," Wyatt says.

"We have successfully received all of the points we went after on the design side and anticipate getting all of the points we went after on the construction side," says Pat Grant, vice president and an owner of CHP & Associates of Houston, the project manager in charge of design of the mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire-protection systems for the Bush Center. The company also served as the sustainable design consultant.

The team has targeted 91 of 110 possible points, exceeding the 80 points necessary to achieve LEED Platinum.

The 226,565-sq-ft, three-story center sits on about 25 acres of the SMU campus and includes the presidential library; archives; exhibit space with replicas of the White House's Oval Office and Rose Garden; offices for the former president and First Lady Laura Bush; and a policy institute, which will host symposiums and help educate university students. It also will have a 353-seat auditorium.

Dallas-based Manhattan Construction broke ground on the center in November 2010 and topped it out last October. Bruce Fields, the company's project executive, expects an on-time delivery in November. The center will open in spring 2013.

Design Elements

Robert A.M. Stern Architects designed the structure to complement SMU's American Georgian-style architecture. Stern "is a master at neoclassical architecture, interpreting the classics into a contemporary application," Arendt says.