The Natural Resources Defense Council has created a new “Greening Advisor” Web site to help firms “green” their operations. The Web site includes tips on finding environmentally friendly sources of supplies, promoting a bicycle-friendly workplace, reducing paper waste, using less-toxic cleaning products, and planting drought-tolerant plants and those native to the locale. It also provides examples of how to develop corporate environmental policies and sustainability reports, and suggests environmentally friendly language that companies can write into contracts with their suppliers. The site is particularly useful for small- and mid-sized businesses that want to improve their environmental performance without hiring consultants.

In addition, the Environmental Defense Fund has published a new report on the best environmental sustainability practices for businesses. The report, Innovations Review 2008: Making Green the New Business as Usual, covers practices ranging from reducing waste and the use of toxic adhesives to getting breaks on insurance premiums for energy-efficient buildings.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has launched a new initiative to encourage the building industry to adopt green building practices and enhance public awareness of the benefits of green buildings.

AFT Wins Maggie Award

APARTMENT FINANCE TODAY magazine recently won the Western Publications Association’s Maggie Award for best real estate and housing trade magazine for its March 2007 issue.

The March 2007 issue featured a special look at rental housing for middle- class families as well as mixed-use developments.

The magazine’s staff was also recognized with a second Maggie Award this year when its sister publication, AFFORDABLE HOUSING FINANCE, won for best series in a trade publication. Its series “The Trouble with HUD and How to Fix It” was published in the June and July 2007 issues.

Fewer Renters Joining Ranks of Homeowners

The apartment market is showing signs of stability, although financing has become more difficult to secure, according to the National Multi Housing Council’s (NMHC) latest Quarterly Survey of Apartment Market Conditions. Demand for apartments remains strong, with more than 80 percent of survey respondents reporting a decrease in the number of renters leaving to become homeowners.

Mark Obrinsky, NMHC’s chief economist, noted that “even though there has been an increase in the number of condo and single-family rentals, these properties do not typically compete for the same renters as professionally managed apartments.” He went on to explain that “professionally managed properties may become even more desirable in the current market as renters of many of these individually owned condos and houses find themselves without housing because the owners of these properties have lost the property to foreclosure.”

The housing market downturn and financial market disruption are affecting multifamily financing, and thus the volume of apartment property sales. Two-thirds of respondents noted that borrowing conditions had worsened compared with three months earlier, a reflection of the continued widening of spreads and tightening of credit standards. A record 76 percent of respondents reported that equity financing was less available. As a result, the Sales Volume Index declined to 13 this quarter, the secondlowest reading in the NMHC Quarterly Survey’s history.

Boston Capital Launches $200 Million Fund

Boston Capital Corp. seeks to raise $200 million for its newest fund that will invest in multifamily construction developments.

Boston Capital Real Estate Partners Multifamily Development Fund III will form ventures with local and national partners with between 150 and 400 residential units each. Its investment targets will include mixeduse developments that have multifamily components. The fund will target markets along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and in Texas. More specifically, California, the Mid-Atlantic region, and Seattle are among the markets of interest. The fund is expected to use 70 percent to 75 percent leverage, which could give it up to $800 million in investment potential.

The firm, which is the country’s third largest multifamily property owner, will commit at least $3 million of equity to the fund. The fund will have an eight-year life and could be extended two years. It is expected to hold individual assets for two to five years.

The Boston investment manager holds an interest in 167,679 units located in 2,800 properties across the country.