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CHESTNUT HILL, MA-Intent on reducing the carbon footprint of its New England portfolio, Chestnut Hill Realty is launching an environmentally friendly campaign for more than 20 multifamily properties in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Being unveiled as part of Earth Day 2008, CHR officials say they ultimately hope to cut the amount of BTU’s used in their properties at least 11% by 2010 through its “Live Green” program.

“CHR is very proud to be the first real estate company in the New England region to take on this caliber of a program dedicated to green living,” says Robert Zuker, COO of the family-owned company. He stresses CHR has been dedicated to energy efficiency throughout its nearly 35 years in business. “Our new ‘Live Green’ initiative really takes this commitment to a new level,” Zuker says.

To mark the start of the program, CHR is providing every apartment tenant a pair of 100% recyclable and reusable shopping bags to help reduce the estimated 24 million disposable bags used in the US annually. Residents also will be offered green-themed events and contests this year to promote conservation and recycling.

CHR spent the past year researching the best practices of companies that have implemented environmentally friendly programs, both in and out of the real estate business, explains Zuker, who in 2005 was named as Environmental Leader for his hometown of Brookline’s GreenSpace Alliance. “CHR feels strongly that every company has a responsibility to be a good corporate citizen,” he says.

Besides engaging employees and tenants to improve their environmental aptitude, CHR is investing capital to upgrade its multifamily communities in such areas as water consumption, electricity use, landscaping and restricting pesticide use. “While many look to institute green-building standards in new properties,” Zuker says, “not a lot of attention and resources were being spent on existing properties. We feel there is a great opportunity here to retrofit our existing properties with more energy efficient materials and earth-friendly practices.”

CHR provides corporate housing, home sales, property management and development services in addition to apartment rentals. The firm’s last addition to its portfolio was a 399-unit apartment community in Plainville. CHR paid $41 million for the 23-acre complex, as first reported by GlobeSt.com. Now named Village Green, that property at 71 Messenger St. will be included in the “Live Green” program.

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