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America’s First Carbon-Negative Hotel in the Middle of Denver is Inspired by Aspen Trees


Studio Gang

Taking inspiration from the aspen tree the state of Colorado so loves—a Denver hotel is looking to become the first-of-its-kind in America that removes more carbon than it uses.

With cement-works, smelting, and heavy machinery being the birth of all big buildings, the Populus Hotel has spared no piece of its operations from being assessed for unnecessary emissions.

The building was designed by Studio Gang in Chicago, and is almost finished. At the hotel there’s no parking, removing the need for digging and building an underground concrete lot.

Instead, Populus is encouraging guests to take a bus or train to a city transportation hub right across the street to arrive.

The low-carbon concrete façade and skeleton of the hotel are inspired by aspen bark, and is crafted from a super insulating material that will greatly reduce energy consumption.

Deep-set windows work the same way, removing the amount of sun that directly enters a room.

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The roof is lined with solar panels, and for every ton of CO2 produced from energy use, the hotel will be buying “carbon offsets”—trees planted somewhere by a third party that will absorb CO2 throughout their lifetime.

Studio Gang

“Internally, we often say if we can show people how to make money doing the right thing to change the world, it can be replicated,” Jon Buerge, chief development officer at Urban Villages, the sustainability-focused developer behind the project, told Fast Company.

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“And so our projects are very profitable. We don’t ever come in saying, you know, well, if we use this material, and we reduce our return on investment, is that okay? It’s more saying, we’ve got to justify it. We have to make sure that the decisions we’re making are good for the planet and good for for the business.”

Studio Gang

Expected to open next year, the hotel will have 265 rooms, and will include a rooftop terrace garden and dining area with views out across to the State Capitol building, and towards the Rocky Mountains beyond.

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