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A Sustainable Marvel

Populus, the U.S.'s First Carbon-Positive Hotel, is Under Construction in Denver's Civic Center Park

Article by Tony Firestine

Photography by Renderings by Nephew and Studio Gang

Originally published in Cherry Creek Lifestyle

Contributing to the revitalization of Civic Center Park at Colfax Ave and 14th St, a groundbreaking addition is set to be added to the Denver skyline in the summer of 2024. From Aparium Hotel Group, Populus isn't just another hotel; it's a pioneering venture, poised to redefine the hospitality industry. With its exceptional commitment to sustainability and nature-inspired design, Populus prides itself on being the first carbon-positive hotel in the United States, setting a new standard for environmentally responsible hospitality.

Developed by Urban Villages and managed by Aparium Hotel Group, Populus epitomizes sustainability in every aspect of its conception and operation. With a focus on offsetting its carbon footprint, Populus has embarked on a remarkable journey of collaboration with nature. Over 70,000 Engelmann Spruce trees have been planted in Gunnison County, Colorado, in partnership with One Tree Planted and the United States Forest Service, to sequester the hotel’s initial carbon emissions and rejuvenate the local ecosystem. More trees will be planted as the interiors are moving towards completion. Populus has also integrated sustainable practices into its construction, utilizing low-carbon concrete mixes, high-recycled content materials and maximizing structural efficiency to minimize its environmental footprint. The hotel's ongoing operations will also contribute to its carbon-positive status, ensuring that every guest's stay leaves a positive mark on the planet. “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,” says Jon Buerge, president of 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 establish creative, local ways to sequester additional carbon off-site, will empower other developers to take a more sustainable and holistic approach.”

Populus' architectural style, crafted by the renowned Studio Gang, draws inspiration from Colorado's majestic signature Aspen trees. The building's distinctive facade, featuring "Aspen-eye" windows and outward-extending "lids," not only pays homage to nature but also enhances energy efficiency in Denver's diverse, and often disparate, climate. Internally, Populus exudes warmth and tranquility, courtesy of Wildman Chalmers Design. The interiors seamlessly blend natural elements with modern luxury, creating a sensory experience reminiscent of wandering through a mountain grove. “By taking cues from nature and partnering with local artisans, we hope to create a strong connection between the design of Populus and the earth and its surroundings. The result will be a hospitality experience that’s warm, welcoming and uniquely Colorado,” says Heather Wildman, principal and design director of Wildman Chalmers Design. Every detail reflects Populus's reverence for the environment.


Beyond its eco-friendly ethos and captivating design, Populus will offer many amenities designed to elevate the guest experience. From modern guest rooms and flexible event spaces to a signature rooftop bar offering panoramic views of the city and mountains, every aspect of Populus is tailored to provide guests with unforgettable moments amidst nature-inspired comfort. Populus' commitment to sustainability also extends to its operational partnerships. The hotel continues to explore collaborative alliances for renewable energy sourcing, regenerative agriculture initiatives and waste diversion programs to further reduce its carbon footprint and foster a more sustainable future.

With its unwavering dedication to environmental stewardship and a design that seamlessly integrates with nature, Populus is poised to become an exemplary model of sustainable travel. As travelers seek experiences that align with their values, Populus stands ready to welcome them, offering an oasis where hospitality, esthetic and sustainability converge in perfect symmetry.

  • Rendering by Studio Gang
  • Rendering by Studio Gang
  • Rendering by Studio Gang
  • Rendering by Nephew
  • Rendering by Nephew