First “carbon-positive” hotel planned for downtown Denver

by | Jul 18, 2022 | Blog, Construction | 0 comments

As the effects of climate change become more apparent each day, at least one developer is doing something about it: building the nation’s first carbon-positive hotel.

Called Populus, the unorthodox hotel will be built with a laudable environmental goal: removing more carbon from the air than it emits.

“An earth emergency demands that we strengthen our influence, and Populus is just the beginning,” noted Jon Buerge in a recent Forbes article.

Buerge is chief development officer and partner at Urban Villages, the developer of the hotel that will occupy the corner of 14th Street and Colfax Avenue, just across the street from the Denver City and County Building, when it’s finished in late 2023. The hotel will feature an unusual look, with a triangular exterior and scalloped sides. It will hold 265 rooms, a rooftop restaurant and bar with views of the mountains and city skyline, and retail and event space.

Among the steps Urban Villages is taking to reduce its carbon output:

    • “Low carbon concrete mixes and high-recycled content materials” will be used, notes Forbes, “both of which will maximize structural efficiency, using fewer finish material and minimizing waste.”
    • The building will follow U.S. Green Building Council codes to achieve LEED Gold certification.
    • The design itself will maximize energy efficiency. Designed by the architecture firm Studio Gang, the building’s exterior is inspired by Colorado’s bountiful aspen trees, with each window shaped similar to the eye-like marks created on the aspen bark as the trees drop their lower branches. The eye “lids” over each window “extend slightly outward according to solar orientation, which shades the interior of the building and improves its energy performance,” reports
    • The design includes “a commitment” to plant trees that will be the carbon-gobbling equivalent of more than 5,000 acres of forest. This can offset the carbon footprint of 500,000 gallons of gas, as well as remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
    •  The hotel won’t have a parking garage. As 303 Magazine explains: “Parking garages are built of steel and reinforced concrete, which ultimately increases carbon emissions. So by removing parking entirely, travelers will be encouraged to use public transportation, inspiring a more pedestrian-friendly environment…”

In sum, Buerge told Forbes, the building is designed to meet today’s moment: “We’ve created Populus to be a catalyst for change and to meet the increasing preference by today’s consumers to travel responsibly, experience places in an authentic way, and connect more deeply with nature and each other.”

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