Energy Trust of Oregon is sending letters to customers of NW Natural and PGE letting them know how good they are doing in energy use relative to the neighbors in that area. This is a great idea! Not only because it shows how you are doing, but will make you think about how you can improve your energy use. In my case for instance I know that I have to work on my home's envelope, need new more efficient windows, new wall isolation, and remove all drafting through doors and windows. Of course if I have new windows installed that would fix the air draft there!
Envelopes are critical in any structure in fact there is a group working in this subject at Portland State. Today architects think about the envelope from the very beginning of the design, not as it was done in the good'ol days when the last thing in the architect mind was efficiency, I think (of course you can prove me wrong) that in the good'ol days architects were only concerned about looks and it would be up to the engineers who would have to deal with structures but I would say that never thinking about energy conservation. At the end they would have a lot of tools to fix the livability or habitability of a residence, such as central heating and air condicioning. Of course these tools are available today too, and much more efficient than before but the whole idea with a good envelope is that the home will require much less energy heating or cooling to confortable temperatures.