Bright Ideas in Travel 2023

The idea: When it opens, Populus will be the first carbon-positive hotel in the US. Why it matters: Named for Colorado’s native aspen tree, this 265-room, 13-story hotel is poised to be a benchmark for the future of responsible hospitality development.

How it works: Acknowledging that buildings are responsible for 45 percent of greenhouse emissions in the US, Urban Villages—the team behind this landmark downtown hotel—wasn’t content solely achieving the already rigorous LEED Gold status. Decisions like deliberately excluding a parking garage (steel and reinforced concrete are large contributors to a building’s carbon footprint) and offsetting construction emissions by planting over 70,000 Engelmann spruce trees complement its rigorous 100 percent recyclable and compostable waste-management strategy and its plan to run on 100 percent renewable energy. When it opens in spring 2024, the hotel will feature an impressive two-story entrance with 30-foot-tall windows—and a rooftop restaurant offering 360-degree views of Denver and its surrounding mountains.