The U.S.’s first carbon-positive hotel comes with a forest

When a new hotel, currently under construction in downtown Denver, is completed next year, it won’t have any parking spaces. Instead of driving, guests are expected to take the train from the airport to a transportation hub across the street. It’s just one design feature that will help make it the first carbon-positive hotel in the U.S.—meaning that it’s responsible for capturing more carbon than it produces.

The wedge-shaped hotel, called the Populus, will be sandwiched between streets on a corner that once was the site of the first gas station in Colorado. “There’s some sort of poetic justice there,” says Jon Buerge, chief development officer at Urban Villages, the sustainability-focused developer behind the project. “We’re building the greenest building in Denver, and it has no parking.”

By ditching parking, the building can avoid the carbon footprint of extra concrete used to make an underground lot while nudging guests to avoid driving. In the rest of the 14-story building, the developers are using low-carbon concrete. (The concrete industry is one of the biggest emitters on the planet, but multiple startups are pioneeringnew alternatives.) Other materials will be recycled, locally sourced, or otherwise more sustainable than conventional options. The facade of the building uses an extra-insulating material, so it requires little energy for heating and cooling.