To celebrate Earth Day, real estate developers Urban Villages and Studio Gang have unveiled and broken ground on "Populus", the first carbon positive hotel in the United States. Set to open in late 2023, the 265-room hotel in Denver features a rooftop restaurant and bar, designed as a significant milestone for the future of sustainable travel that meets the needs of travelers, the community, and the environment.
The project comes as a response to the awareness of consumers around the world who are recognizing and standing up for environmental challenges that impact their lives and economy. The hotel will be entirely carbon positive, beginning with its construction, until its ongoing operations post-completion. An ecological effort will also be present offsite, such as an initial commitment to plant trees that represent over 5,000 acres of forest, which will offset an embodied carbon footprint equivalent to nearly 500,000 gallons of gas, and remove additional carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Instead of purchasing untraceable carbon credits, Urban Villages is accomplishing Populus’ carbon positive status by proactively planting and growing trees to make a tangible impact. The structure will minimize its carbon footprint in the development stage using low-carbon concrete mixes, high-recycled content materials, maximizing structural efficiency, using fewer finish materials, and minimizing waste, to name a few. Populus’ ongoing operations will also be carbon positive, so that the hotel’s overall use (operational carbon) along with every guest stay will be offset in addition to the building’s embodied carbon.
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Although the structure is located at the busy site of Colorado’s first gas station at 14th Street and Colfax Avenue, the hotel will become the first new-build hotel in Denver without any onsite parking, which are often built with steel and reinforced concrete, which increase carbon profiles. This strategy encourages the use of public transportation, and proves that onsite parking is not always necessary as cities evolve towards a more pedestrian-friendly environment. The hotel will be partnering with a nearby parking space for visitors who need it.
Improving the resiliency of our cities has never been more urgent—and it includes reducing carbon emissions as well as strengthening community bonds. 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 -- Jeanne Gang, founder of Studio Gang
Studio Gang's design features an Aspen tree-inspired structure with distinctive eye-shaped windows that echo the "Aspen eyes" and increase energy performance that corresponds to Denver’s varied climate. The façade's design is optimized with respect to the program inside, with “lids” over each window extending outward to shade the interior of the building. The lids also channel 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. Inside the rooms, 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.