Here's an ideal, a self-contained house -- no utility hookups, none -- constructed from society's castoffs. I learned that buildings have their own metabolisms when I weatherized conventional houses for the DOE, but this is ninety steps closer to house-as-extension-of-human-metabolism, Homo sap's equivalent to bee's waxy dwellings: Michael Reynolds' Earthships.
The objection is that we're committed to existing structures, and part of a house's energy cost is its construction. Once again, earthships are an ideal. If you build, build something that takes care of itself, and uses waste from other cycles as components. If you have a house, tune it with Earthships in mind.