Populus, the first carbon positive hotel in the United States, hits major construction milestone

New 265-room hotel in Downtown Denver will open in Spring 2024

Urban Villages, a leading real estate developer and environmental steward is pleased to announce that Populus, the first carbon-positive hotel in the United States, has topped out. The milestone marks the completion of the vertical structure for the 13-story, 265-room hotel which is located at 14th Street and Colfax Avenue. Populus will open in Denver in the Spring of 2024.

Managed by Aparium Hotel Group, Populus features a distinctive Aspen tree-inspired design by architecture and urban design practice Studio Gang and will offer a rooftop restaurant and bar with stunning mountain and city views. As the country’s first carbon-positive hotel, Populus’s carbon footprint will be offset through the forest and agricultural collaborations that will sequester more carbon than the building emits. By doing so, Populus will serve both as an architectural landmark for the Mountain West as well as a new milestone for the future of sustainable travel.

“We’re thrilled to celebrate this milestone for Populus and to be one step closer to the opening of the country’s first carbon-positive hotel,” says Grant McCargo, Urban Villages’ Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer. “Populus will provide Denver and the nation with a stunning hotel that breaks the boundaries of sustainable hospitality, all thanks to our dedicated team and partners, who have been working tirelessly to make this project a reality.”

“We hope Populus will serve as a model for how the real estate industry can more directly address the urgency of climate change while also meeting the preferences of today’s eco-conscious traveler,” said Jon Buerge, President, and Partner at Urban Villages. “Buildings currently account for 45 percent of greenhouse emissions in the United States; we need a new way to build. We hope the transparency with which we are sharing our ever-evolving efforts to reduce the building’s carbon footprint during construction and operations and to establishing creative, local ways to sequester additional carbon off-site, will empower other developers to take a more sustainable and holistic approach.”

Urban Villages broke ground on Populus on Earth Day of 2022 with a public commitment to make the development “carbon positive”. The company defines this as a commitment to sequester more carbon in biomass and soil than the combined embodied and operational footprints of the building across its entire life cycle. This will be achieved through a combination of sustainable design and construction techniques, for which the building is targeting LEED Gold certification, in concert with robust ecological sequestration efforts offsite.

Urban Villages will offset the “embodied carbon” of the building – the carbon emitted during the creation, transportation, installation, maintenance, and end-of-life disposal of the materials used to build the hotel–by planting over 70,000 trees in Gunnison County, Colo. Beyond offsetting the building’s footprint, this approach will also support and fortify biodiversity within the alpine ecosystem: Urban Villages partnered with One Tree Planted vis-a-vis the United States Forest Service to re-introduce Engelmann Spruce, a primary tree species that was diminished by beetle kill. The trees, which have already been procured, will be planted in early summer 2023.

In addition to Populus’ carbon sequestration strategy, Urban Villages is using innovative solutions to significantly reduce carbon throughout the development and ongoing operations of the hotel. Urban Villages worked closely with Studio Gang and the general contractor, The Beck Group, to limit the carbon footprint of the building during design and construction. This includes utilizing Holcim’s innovative ECOPact™ low-carbon concrete mix, which offers a minimum of 30% lower CO2 emissions compared to standard concrete.

To further reduce carbon profiles, Populus is intentionally built without any onsite parking – Denver’s first new-build hotel without it – as parking garages are built of carbon-heavy steel and reinforced concrete.

Destined to become a lively new social hub in downtown Denver, Populus will feature 265 modern guest rooms, a ground floor restaurant, flexible event spaces, a coffee shop, and a signature rooftop bar and restaurant offering unobstructed views of the mountains, city skyline, and Civic Center Park. The hotel and all its dynamic social areas will be managed by Aparium Hotel Group, a world-class hotel operator focused on market-leading independent lifestyle hotels, restaurants, and bars. The building itself is designed by Studio Gang, the world-renowned architecture and urban design firm founded and led by MacArthur Fellow and WSJ. Magazine’s 2022 Architecture Innovator Jeanne Gang.

Populus Rendering, Credit: Studio Gang

For more information, visit or follow along at @Urban.Villages.

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