Urban Villages to open two carbon positive hotels in US this year

by: Felicity Cousins | January 4, 2024

US: Urban Villages and Aparium Hotel Group has unveiled the interior design for their carbon positive hotel, which is opening in Denver this spring, with a Seattle hotel opening this autumn.

Managed by Aparium Hotel Group, Populus’ interiors are designed to celebrate nature and pay homage to the Mountain West and it’s striking Aspen-tree inspired architecture by Studio Gang. You can see the unique exterior of the Denver hotel in our report last year.

Populus is carbon positive because it is offsetting both operational and embodied carbon – including the carbon emitted during the creation, transportation, installation, maintenance, and disposal of materials used to build it.

Cited as the first carbon positive hotel in the US, developer Urban Villages defines carbon positive as a commitment to sequester more carbon in biomass and soil than the combined embodied and operational footprints of a hotel across its entire life cycle (removing additional carbon from the atmosphere to have a net positive impact on climate change). 

This is achieved through a combination of sustainable design and construction techniques, in addition to ecological sequestration efforts offsite such as planting more than 70,000 trees in Gunnison County, Colorado in partnership with One Tree Planted, vis-a-vis the United States Forest Service.

The Denver hotel’s interiors have been created by Wildman Chalmers Design in partnership with Fowler + Fowler Architecture, with an aim to mimmic the different stages of a forest from forest floor, right up to the canopy.

Wildman Chalmers Design has used natural woods, textures, and finishes that embrace the imperfection found in a forest and complement the building’s bold architecture and exposed concrete core and ceilings.

All interiors, from the materials to the furniture and art, are designed to minimise the building’s carbon footprint through consciously sourced materials. 

Mario Tricoci, CEO and founder of Aparium Hotel Group said: “Our mission at Aparium is to create distinctive hotels that embody the unique character of their destinations, and Populus is a perfect example of this.”

Heather Wildman, principal and design director of Wildman Chalmers Design added: “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.”

The art collection at the 265-room hotel has been curated by artist and environmentalist Katherine Homes who drew on her background working with climate change, wildlife, and conservation non-profits. Homes selected pieces from local Colorado artists, plus talent from around the country who are also naturalists, educators, and environmentalists.

Highlights include a sensory-evoking art experience in the elevator, which will be filled with local bird songs from Jacob Job, a Colorado-based conservationist and natural sound recording artist, who recorded bird songs in nearby Rocky Mountain National Park. 

Homes said: “The more you connect with nature, the more you understand it and want to preserve it. Our hope is that Populus helps give a voice to the wild and inspires people to spend time outdoors with a renewed appreciation for the earth.”

Urban Villages is also opening another carbon positive hotel in the autumn, with its Hotel Westland in Seattle’s historic Pioneer Square neighbourhood. The 120-room hotel will be operated by Aparium Hotel Group and architecturally designed by The Miller Hull Partnership with interiors by Curioso.

Climate-positive, carbon negative and net zero can also be used to describe sustainable hotels – such as the US’ Hotel Marcel, which is anticipated to be the first Passivhaus-certified hotel in the country, as well as the first net zero hotel by the end of 2025. The 100 per cent electric hotel operates fossil-fuel free, and is LEED Platinum-certified.

Carbon positive goes a step further to calculate and offset the entire lifecycle of any carbon. You can read about the UK’s first Passivhaus hotel below.

Construction of UK’s first Passivhaus hotel on the cards


Image: Populus lobby entrance by Nephew