Denver’s ‘Populus’ Will Be The First Carbon-Positive Hotel In The U.S.

As new homes and hotels go up every day across the U.S. in a sustained construction boom, despite rising materials costs and supply chain disruptions, another reality must also be considered: Buildings currently account for 45% of greenhouse emissions. While carbon-neutral construction has increased in recent years, it is not enough to slow climate change. Enter environmental real estate developer Urban Villages, whose Populus, the first carbon-positive hotel in the U.S., has just broken ground in Denver, Colorado.

Slated to open in late 2023, the 265-room Populus will include a rooftop restaurant and bar with stunning views of the mountains and city skyline, along with retail and event spaces. But it’s the visual aesthetic of the building that will attract the initial buzz. Designed by AD100 architecture firm Studio Gang, the building’s exterior is inspired by the beautiful and beloved aspen trees inextricably associated with the American West.

Studio Gang’s founder, MacArthur Fellow and one of Time magazine’s top 100 most influential people Jeanne Gang, says, “The distinctive shape of the windows is informed by the growth process of aspen trees, which are so emblematic of Colorado’s ecology. As the trees grow taller, they leave behind dark, eye-shaped marks on their trunks as they shed their lower branches. The pattern of the windows works with the rhythm and texture of the façade – each vertical scallop is the width of a single hotel room — to give the building its dynamic and welcoming appearance.”