Chapter 11 During this real estate meltdown, lots of single-family builders went into bankruptcy, but it hasn't happened much in the healthier multifamily market. Until now. In Greensboro, N.C., three apartment complexes owned by Michael and Harry Falk, a father-and-son development team, filed for Chapter 11. The Falks own six other apartment buildings, according to the Triad Business Journal. —L.S.
Fill 'Er Up Record price increases for steel- and petroleum-dependant building materials were enough of a problem; now fuel costs for equipment and vehicles are threatening to make construction unaffordable, says Ken Simonson, chief economist of the Arlington, Va.-based Associated General Contractors of America. Responding to producer price indexes released in April by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Simonson said the fuel situation might even worsen by year's end, inflicting severe stress on contractors that use diesel to power off-road equipment and construction vehicles. —C.W.
Big Belly In the United States, garbage trucks burn more than 1 billion gallons of diesel each year picking up trash. The Philadelphia Housing Authority wants to limit this dredge on fuel by installing Big Belly trash cans at nine of its 48 sites. The containers, made by Big Belly Solar in Needham, Mass., use the sun's energy to automatically compact trash at the point of disposal, and they increase capacity of ordinary receptacles by five times. Increased capacity reduces collection trips and can cut related fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent. —L.S.
New Study The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently issued a report that sheds new light on intergenerational families. According to the report, 1.6 million grandparent-headed households are raising a grandchild and qualify for assistance under the LEGACY Act enacted in 2003 to provide assistance for intergenerational families. Under LEGACY, 265,000 grandparent-headed households would qualify for public assistance. —L.S.
Staying Power? Since LEED certification is a one-and-done achievement, Seattle-based architecture firm GGLO is conducting post-occupancy studies to see if green buildings maintain their efficiency edge over time. According to its studies of three LEED-certified buildings, energy usage was within 10 percent of certified levels, but water consumption was off by 30 percent, indicating that occupant habits can have a significant impact on water use. Still, the study found that sustainable buildings have virtually no cost premium as compared to conventional buildings. —C.W.
Generation Y Not Looking to tap into a vast pool of renters ages 21 to 34, Apartments.com became the first mulitfamily Internet listing service to establish a presence on the popular social networking site MySpace.com. At Apartments.com's MySpace community page, users can view Apartments.com listings and perform searches based on various criteria. The Apartments. com MySpace profile page will also host instructional articles on lease signing, apartment decorating, and apartment sharing. Renters who add the profile page as one of their online “friends” will additionally receive alerts when the content is updated. —C.W.