Green Card

The National Apartment Association Educational Institute and the National Affordable Housing Management Association have joined forces to launch the Green Credential for Property Management (GCPM), a designation for on-site managers, maintenance personnel, and staff supervisors. The credential certifies that these individuals have learned the latest techniques and technologies for making cost-saving green improvements at properties. To earn the GCPM, individuals must complete a minimum of 16 hours of green training in areas such as energy efficiency, water efficiency, integrated pest management, indoor air quality, and green operations and maintenance. —Chris Wood

Foreign Power

Bucking relative weakness of the U.S. dollar, Rutherford, N.J.-based Lincoln Equities Group has partnered with an international pension fund to pay $357 million for a 4,472-unit suburban apartment portfolio across 69 properties in Berlin. Each building is 90 percent residential, with about 180 ground-floor retail units across the portfolio. The acquisition should supercharge Lincoln's German investment strategy, which was launched in 2005 to acquire multifamily properties and increase rents by making selective, cost-effective capital improvements. —Chris Wood

Rent Drop

AXIOMETRICS, a Dallas-based apartment research firm, says apartment rent growth has seen the smallest increase since the first quarter of 2004. Not only has effective apartment rent growth substantially slowed from one year ago, but occupancy rates also dropped by 0.7 percent to 93.5 percent. The rate of rent growth in the third quarter was 0.2 percent, the lowest rate for that period since 1996. It was also well below the long-term average third-quarter growth rate of 1.3 percent. —Les Shaver

California Sun

This fall, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) announced a $108 million solar incentive program for multifamily affordable housing developments. Qualifying projects in the state will be eligible for $3.30 per watt incentives for systems offsetting common area load and $4.00 per watt for systems offsetting tenant load. The program “is designed to address the unique challenges of deploying solar in a multi-tenant affordable housing context,” says CPUC president Michael Peevey. “It is essential that affordable housing owners be provided meaningful incentives to invest in these systems.” —Chris Wood

Energy Upgrade

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is investing in energy management to increase the asset value of public housing agencies. So far, it's working. From fiscal year 2006 to 2007, the guaranteed savings of all awarded contracts increased by 80 percent, from $37.6 million to $68 million. Energy conservation investments increased by 35 percent to $121 million, and more than 201,800 public housing units received renovations to date. —Les Shaver