Urban Villages celebrates topping out of carbon positive Populus hotel

The United States’ first carbon positive hotel, Populus in Denver, tops out, marking a major construction milestone ahead of its expected completion in spring 2024.

While announcing this milestone, Urban Villages also revealed new details on the 265-key property’s carbon positive strategy. Aparium Hotel Group has been named operator of the hotel.

A one-of-a-kind property

The leading real estate developer and environmental steward Urban Villages has announced the latest development updates for the construction of the first carbon positive hotel in the United States, Populus. The topping out milestone marks the completion of the 13-storey hotel’s vertical structure.

The hotel will be managed by Aparium Hotel Group. On the announcement, Mario Tricoci, CEO and Founder of Aparium Hotel Group, commented: “At Aparium, our mission is to create one-of-a-kind hotels, each leaving an indelible mark within its community. We are thrilled to partner with Urban Villages on Populus, the pioneering carbon positive hotel in Denver and beyond.”

“Through our dynamic approach to programming, collaborative local partnerships, and unparalleled food and beverage experiences, we will continue to redefine the boundaries of excellence in the industry with Populus. With its breathtaking design, positive ecological undertaking, and the one-of-one experiences that are synonymous with Aparium, Populus is destined to become a must-visit landmark not just for Denver, but for the entire country.”

Carbon positive plans

This announcement also came with updates on the carbon positive strategy of this hotel. Urban Villages defines carbon positive as a commitment to sequester more carbon in biomass and soil than the footprint of the building across its life cycle.

The building is targeting LEED Gold certification in its construction and will offset its embodied carbon by planting over 70,000 trees in Gunnison County, Colorado. Urban Villages partnered with One Tree Planted to re-introduce the diminished Engelmann Spruce.

To reduce carbon throughout the development and operations of the hotel, Urban Villages is working closely with the hotel’s designer, Studio Gang, and general contractor, The Beck Group, to limit the carbon footprint through measures such as the use of low-carbon materials and an insulated façade system. The hotel will be built without onsite parking and encourage use of public transport.

Through its lifetime, the hotel’s carbon emissions will continually be tracked, reduced and offset. The property plans to utilise 100% renewable energy and source food through regenerative agriculture partnerships.

A new social hub

The design of Studio Gang will be informed by the characteristic patterns of Colorado’s native Aspen tree, Populus Tremuloides. Guests will be greeted in a double-height lobby with amenity spaces featuring 30-ft-high windows. The first floor will feature a restaurant and coffee shop and a grand staircase will lead to the second floor featuring co-working, meeting and event space.

A highlight of the property will be its rooftop featuring a signature restaurant, outdoor bar and garden terrace with 360-degree views of Denver’s parks, downtown skyline and the Rocky Mountains. The hotel’s public spaces will be joined by 265 modern guest rooms.

On these plans, Grant McCargo, Urban Villages’ Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, said: “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. 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.”

Jon Buerge, President and Partner at Urban Villages, commented: “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 traveller.”

“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.”