Tips for Going Green at Home

Urban Villages’ chief development officer Jon Buerge shares his insider industry tips on how to improve your home’s sustainability.

Populus building exterior
Populus is designed to look like an aspen tree after shedding its branches. Image courtesy of Studio Gang.

Since its inception in 2006, Urban Villages has been committed to building and maintaining sustainable real estate. Founded in LoDo, the company constructs new buildings, restores old properties, and masterminds larger planned communities, all while protecting the planet. Urban Villages renovated the Sugar Block, built SugarCube and SugarSquare (which both won the Mayor’s Design of the Year award the year they were built), revamped Larimer Square, and most recently broke ground on Populus, which will be the nation’s first carbon-positive hotel when it opens in 2024 near Denver’s Civic Center Park. “We are facing an environmental emergency,” says Jon Buerge, chief development officer and partner at Urban Villages. “People appreciate that climate change is dramatically changing our world. What people don’t understand is that real estate is the deepest cause. The reality is that we need to change the way we build and operate buildings or we won’t ever solve the problem.” Below Buerge shares five eco-friendly tips to help homeowners make their space a little more green.

1Reduce your carbon footprint.

By planting trees on your property and in other designated areas, you can combat your home’s carbon output. This is how Buerge tells us Urban Villages will make Populus carbon positive: “We calculated every material that is going into the building, how much carbon it took to transport and construct and deduced that we needed to plant approximately 70,000 trees.” Be sure to research what plants are native to your specific area for maximum ecological harmony. Some popular Colorado native trees are the blue spruce, ponderosa pine, and aspen.

2Conserve water.

Basic fixes like low-flow appliances decrease the water you use when doing everyday tasks like washing dishes and taking a shower. You can also be creative about using reclaimed water for indoor plants and yards.

3Change up your landscaping.

We all love to fill our flower beds with maximum blooming potential, but when picking your seeds up from the garden shop next season, consider planting more perennials instead of annuals as they do not need to be replaced and use less water. Drought tolerant landscaping is also a durable option in Colorado where the seasons can swing widely and do decent damage to gardens.

4Be mindful of energy.

Simple switches like changing your light bulbs to LED bulbs go a long way. Turning off lights when you are not home or in that part of the house goes even further. Pull open your blinds to capitalize on all the natural light we receive here in Colorado.

5Reuse construction.

Restoration is the best form of recycling. Instead of building a custom home from the ground up, consider updating the existing model to infuse the old with the new. This also applies to any projects you may be looking to do on the garage, shed, carriage house, or vacation home.