Populus Becomes the Nation’s First Carbon Positive Hotel
Real estate developer Urban Villages and Studio Gang have officially unveiled and broken ground on ‘Populus,’ the United State’s first carbon positive hotel project. Set at the intersection of Fourteenth Street and Colfax Avenue in Denver, Colorado, the 265-room hotel has been designed as a milestone for sustainable hospitality, answering the needs of travelers, the environment and the community at large.
“Improving the resiliency of our cities has never been more urgent—and it includes reducing carbon emissions as well as strengthening community bonds,” says Jeanne Gang, founder of Studio Gang. “We’ve designed Populus to be a new destination in downtown Denver that combines these environmental and social ambitions.
“With its distinctive aspen eye windows, the building cultivates a lively pedestrian scene in its neighborhood, while simultaneously connecting you with views of the natural wonders beyond the city limits. The windows and façade are also tuned for high environmental performance—self-shading, insulating, and channeling rainwater—as part of the architecture’s larger green vision.”
Offsetting Carbon Impact from Construction to Post Operations
In the early stages of its development, the structure will minimize its carbon footprint by using low-carbon concrete mixes, high-recycled content materials, maximizing structural efficiency, using fewer finish materials and minimizing waste. Following its completion, Urban Village will fulfill Populus’ carbon positive status by proactively planting and growing trees versus purchasing untraceable carbon credits. The hotel’s ongoing operations will also work to offset all embodied carbon.
This initial commitment to plant trees will represent over 5,000 acres of forest, offsetting an embodied carbon footprint equivalent to nearly 500,000 gallons of gas while removing additional carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Additional ecological efforts are planned as a part of offsite operations.
Populus will also become the first new-build hotel in Denver without any onsite parking to further reduce carbon profiles. This strategy encourages the use of public transportation and support the evolution of the city towards a more pedestrian-friendly environment. The hotel will also be partnering with nearby parking spaces for visitors that do need it.
Biomimicry Fuels Sustainable Wellness Design Accents
The main design of the building features distinctive eye-shaped windows modeled after the region’s iconic ‘Aspen eyes’ that increase energy performance in response to Denver’s varied climate. ‘Lids’ over each window extend outward to shade the interior of the building while also channeling rainwater to keep the façade looking continually clean and bright.
On the interior, the windows vary in size to reflect the diversity of the spaces. Hotel guests have mountain and city views through windows, which also become occupiable, transforming into seats or desks that further connect occupants with the outdoors.
The hotel will feature an array of services and facilities such as cafés, lounges, meeting rooms, and event rooms. The signature rooftop bar and restaurant will enliven the neighborhood with an expansive garden terrace planted with regional vegetation, which serves as a lush place to socialize and a visual representation of Populus’ green ethos while naturally cooling the building.
Populus is set to open in late 2023.