Advocates of autonomous building describe advantages that include reduced environmental impacts, increased security, and lower costs of ownership. Some cited advantages satisfy tenets of green building, not independence per se (see below). Off-grid buildings often rely very little on civil services and are therefore safer and more comfortable during civil disaster or military attacks. (Off-grid buildings would not lose power or water if public supplies were compromised for some reason.)
Most of the research and published articles concerning autonomous building focus on residential homes.
British architects Brenda and Robert Vale have said that, as of 2002,
"It is quite possible in all parts of Australia to construct a 'house with no bills', which would be comfortable without heating and cooling, which would make its own electricity, collect its own water and deal with its own waste...These houses can be built now, using off-the-shelf techniques. It is possible to build a "house with no bills" for the same price as a conventional house, but it would be (25%) smaller."
In the 1970s, a group of activists and engineers calling themselves the New Alchemists believed the warnings of imminent resource depletion and starvation. The New Alchemists were famous for the depth of research effort placed in their projects. Using conventional construction techniques, they designed a series of "bioshelter" projects, the most famous of which was the Ark Bioshelter community for Prince Edward Island. They published the plans for all of these, with detailed design calculations and blueprints. The Ark used wind based water pumping and electricity, and was self-contained in food production. It had living quarters for people, fish tanks raising tilapia for protein, a greenhouse watered with fish water and a closed loop sewage reclamation system that recycled human waste into sanitized fertilizer for the fish tanks. As of January 2010, the successor organization to the New Alchemists has a web page up as the "New Alchemy Institute". The PEI Ark has been abandoned and partially renovated several times.