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The Role of the Multifamily Industry in Building Sustainable Food Systems

March 17, 2024

The multifamily industry is not merely about communal living but represents a significant force in our pursuit of sustainable urban existence. This industry accounts for roughly half of the commercial real estate market and is responsible for nearly 47 percent of global carbon emissions, yet it has the potential to be a game-changer in sustainable living. When constructed and designed with a mindful approach, these living spaces have the capacity to mitigate energy consumption, carbon emissions, and waste.    

How the multifamily industry can support sustainable food systems


Community Gardens

It can be hard to maintain a garden on your own. Adding a garden for your community to share has so many benefits.  So gather your neighbors and work together to see what you can build!

Benefits of a community garden:
Reduces the impact of food deserts and increases access to fresh foods. 
Contributes to the health and well-being of community members. 
Allows the community to connect. 
Reduces food miles that are required to transport nutritious food.
Reduces neighborhood waste through composting.  

Vertical Farming

Bring all of the goodness of the farm, straight to your doorstep with vertical farming. This is a great option for apartment living because it takes up so little space. Vertical farming is the practice of stacking layers of crops atop each other, allowing more vegetation to grow with less space. This is so beneficial for multifamily properties because, with limited space, they need to be creative in how they use their resources. Not only is it beneficial for food equality, but also environmental quality. Vertical farming provides natural habitats for plant life, air filtration, and temperature control. 

Vertical farming can be tied into the community garden, or each apartment can be provided with one for every porch for little things like herbs. 

Zero Waste

In cities like San Francisco, Zero Waste initiatives are game changers. Zero waste means that we send zero discards to landfills or high-temperature destruction. Instead, products are designed and used according to the principle of highest and best use and the waste reduction hierarchy. This will allow food to be used in creative fashions and nothing will be wasted. Multifamily housing can aid in zero waste initiated by providing shared assets and services like toys in a playroom, weights in a gym, books, tools, and vacuums. Housing industries can even do little things like organize a platform that allows neighbors to communicate with each other to give away or exchange unwanted items, instead of having them be thrown out. 

Community Compost 

Introducing a community compost system within apartment complexes is a transformative step towards sustainable urban living, offering a myriad of benefits. A shared compost initiative creates a sense of environmental responsibility among residents, promoting a collective commitment to reducing waste and lowering the carbon footprint. Composting organic waste locally within the community not only diverts significant amounts of material from landfills but also generates nutrient-rich compost that can be added to the community garden!  Embracing community composting enhances the quality of life for residents while actively contributing to environmental conservation efforts.

Household items that can be composted:

  • Food scraps: egg shells, fruits, vegetables
  • Coffee grounds and filters 
  • Teabags and leaves
  • Grass and plant clippings 
  • Paper products


  • Meat
  • Dairy
  • Oily or fatty foods


How can you help?

Change cannot happen unless the multifamily industry realizes how important it is to their communities. All it takes is one person to speak up for what they believe in for others to follow. 

Spread the Word

The best way to stay on top of what’s going on at Move For Hunger and to share it with friends and family is to follow us on social media. We have platforms on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube!

Become an Advocate 

Speaking your mind about policies related to food is a great way to get involved to create change while also educating others on such an important topic! One way to do so is by reaching out to elected officials with your support for living wages and programs like SNAP. Learn more ways you can advocate, and why you should, here.

Educate Yourself

Educate yourself and your community! There are several ways to bring forth positive action and change. Move For Hunger has built several resources, one of the ones that has been an exemplary motive for sustainability would be the Zero Waste Kitchen motion. They have ways to live sustainably and gardening guides to guide people of all levels to a more sustainable lifestyle. Also, learn more about the role that multifamily housing plays in people struggling with hunger. 


Sustainable living is not out of reach for any of us. It will take some forward thinking splashed with a fresh perspective, but it can happen! When we work together, we can make a change.

Looking to join Move For Hunger’s multifamily network? Click here

Categories: Apartments Multi-Family