Real estate’s impact on the environment is dire and intensifying, with buildings currently accounting for 45% of greenhouse emissions in the United States, and concrete is a contributor to that share of carbon emissions.
Recently, Holcim US partnered with Urban Villages, a leading real estate developer and environmental steward, and The Beck Group, the largest integrated design-build firm in the United States, to build Populus – a hotel centered on sustainability – using an innovative ECOPact low-carbon concrete mix.
Populus is currently under construction and just announced its topping out milestone, marking the completion of vertical construction for the 13-story hotel. Opening in Denver in spring 2024, Populus is a 265-room hotel that includes a rooftop restaurant and bar and an iconic Aspen tree-inspired design by AD100 architecture and urban design practice, Studio Gang. Using ECOPact concrete, which offers a minimum of 30% lower CO2 emissions compared to standard concrete, is one of many ways Populus has committed itself to reducing the carbon footprint in both the development and operational stages.
“We’re transforming global sustainability standards for our industry. Projects like Populus, one of the first hotels of its kind in the United States, show how building materials are a vital part of the sustainability solution,” says Toufic Tabbara, Region Head of North America at Holcim. “We’re driven to find ways to decarbonize buildings across their entire lifecycles to mitigate the impact of today’s growing population and rising urbanization, and we’re thrilled to partner with Urban Villages to help bring the construction of Populus to life.”
ECOPact for Populus
By using ECOPact for Populus’ development, there is an expectation that the embodied carbon of the concrete will be 765 tons less than traditional concrete, minimizing the hotel’s carbon footprint.
According to Holcim’s Global Warming Potential (GWP) savings calculator, the use of ECOPact in this building represents a 24% reduction in CO2 emissions of the total concrete volume, as compared to regional averages – the equivalent of eliminating more than 1.5 million miles driven by an average passenger vehicle.
At a time when buildings often strive for net-zero ambitions, Populus is pushing the boundaries to reduce its carbon footprint by implementing green practices derived from extensive research and scientific studies. With approximately 5,100 cubic yards used for the project’s superstructure beams, slabs and other components, ECOPact mixes will account for 65% of the total volume. The project will also utilize Holcim’s DYNAMax high-strength, self-compacting mixes.
“At Urban Villages, our metric for success is not just the projects we build; it’s measured by how well we’re stewarding the real estate industry towards a greener future,” says Grant McCargo, Urban Villages’ Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer. “By showcasing how projects can use creative solutions like low-carbon concrete to reduce carbon emissions, we’re laying the groundwork for other developers to replicate and help leave our planet in a better place.”
Setting a milestone
Not only will Populus set a new milestone for sustainable travel, it will also serve as a stunning architectural landmark forever altering Denver’s skyline. Designed by Studio Gang – named among Architectural Digest’s AD100 since 2017 and led by Jeanne Gang, a MacArthur Fellow and Wall Street Journal’s 2022 Architecture Innovator – Populus’ design draws inspiration from nature and Colorado’s native Aspen tree, Populus Tremuloides. The building’s distinctive windows echo the “Aspen eyes” while also designed to perform efficiently in Denver’s varied climate. The texture and rhythm of the façade is optimized to the program inside, with “lids” over each window extending slightly outward to shade the interior of the building and improves energy performance. These “lids” also neatly channel rainwater to keep the façade of Populus looking continually clean and bright.
Populus will have 265 modern, space-efficient and carbon-efficient guest rooms and dynamic social areas, including a signature rooftop bar and restaurant with an expansive garden terrace planted with regional vegetation, which serves as a lush place to socialize while naturally cooling the building.
Holcim is a global leader in innovative and sustainable building solutions. Driven by its purpose to build progress for people and the planet, its 60,000 employees are on a mission to decarbonize building, while improving living standards for all. The company empowers its customers across all regions to build better with less, with its broad range of low-carbon and circular solutions, from ECOPact to ECOPlanet. With its innovative systems, from Elevate’s roofing to PRB’s insulation, Holcim makes buildings more sustainable in use, driving energy efficiency and green retrofitting. With sustainability at the core of its strategy, Holcim is becoming a net-zero company with 1.5°C targets validated by SBTi.
In the United States, Holcim US, includes close to 350 sites in 43 states and employs 7,000 people. Our customers rely on us to help them design and build better communities with innovative solutions that deliver structural integrity and eco-efficiency. To learn more, visit holcim.us