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Victor Olgyay

  • Buildings

A principal architect directing RMI’s buildings practice, Victor is leading an initiative to encourage widespread adoption of comprehensive building energy retrofits resulting in energy savings of at least 50 percent. Victor has a wide range of experiences in architectural design and planning, with specializations in bioclimatic building and daylighting design.


Using integrated environmental design consulting activities, Victor aims to help transform the built environment into a sustainable built ecology. A registered architect, he has contributed to the design of hundreds of successful green building projects throughout the world that span diverse climates and building types. He has worked independently and with several private and state firms producing architectural design, programming, post-occupancy evaluations and design guidelines.

Prior to RMI, Victor was an associate professor and director of research at the UH School of Architecture from 1993 to 2000 and has overseen numerous energy, environmental and lighting research projects under contract to various state and federal agencies. He was appointed chairman of the AIA Honolulu Energy and Environment Committee 1995–2000, and in 1998 he was named a Dana Fellow of the Joslyn Castle Institute for Sustainable Communities. He is currently on the Board of Directors for the American Solar Energy Association, and a member of the National Academy of Environmental Design Research Committee.

His current research has focused on ecological restoration and on ecosystem services as criteria for green building assessment. This work was published by Elsevier and has been widely presented, including at the American Solar Energy Association and the Towards Net-Zero conference. Recently Victor’s research has expanded into building tool application, especially for demonstrating the reduction of carbon, water, and ecological footprints.


Master of Architecture, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1986
Bachelor of Science, Antioch College, 1980
Licensed Architect, Colorado and Hawaii
LEED 2.0 Accredited Professional


Boulder, CO



Authored Works
Outlet Blog Post

How to Stay Cool while Saving Energy

As a heat wave grips much of the country, with temperatures in some areas running into the triple digits, keeping cool is critical. Yet as millions of people rely on air conditioners we run into problems. California’s power grid operators declared a Stage 3 electrical emergency last weekend due…

Outlet Blog Post

Connected Communities: A Better Way of Building

Looking out your window you might see another building. But close as that may be, you likely share very little with it, even though both your building and the ones near you are dependent on much of the same infrastructure. What if we change this relationship and create functional connections…


Getting to Zero in Buildings: Insights from zLab

In October, 2019, Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and New Buildings Institute (NBI) organized an inaugural zLab to bring together industry leaders to brainstorm solutions and develop action plans around three topics: building electrification for decarbonization, advanced decarbonization policies for existing buildings, and unlocking new value through grid-interactive buildings. RMI has…

Outlet Blog Post

Designing a Climate-Positive Future with Zero-Energy Districts

The environmental impact of buildings is clear. Over the last 30 years the green building industry has emerged in full regalia, with products, rating systems, building science, and architectural élan. Our design and technology have jumped from making buildings perform “better than code” to “zero-energy” or even “net-positive-energy” construction. Today’s…

Outlet Blog Post

Architects Show Leadership in Addressing Climate Change

Architects have a big responsibility for the role the built environment plays in climate change. Globally, buildings consume 35 percent of all energy and 60 percent of all generated electricity—much of which is produced by fossil fuels. As the largest end-use energy sector, buildings account for more than one-third of…

Outlet Blog Post

When It Comes to Buildings and Climate Change, Colorado Matters

Buildings have an enormous impact on earth’s climate. Businesses, developers, and citizens in Colorado are stepping up to alleviate this impact with superefficient buildings (which are 50 percent higher-performing than code-compliant buildings) and increasingly, net-zero carbon buildings. Here are a few examples that show how the state is leading the charge in redefining the built environment and why—as we drive toward a clean, prosperous, and secure low-carbon energy future—Colorado Matters.

Outlet Blog Post

Lessons from the 102nd Floor

In 2014 there is a flourishing industry around deep energy retrofits, and energy service companies are in competition—each trying to outdo the other in demonstrating their ability to go deeper and save more energy more cost effectively.

Outlet Blog Post

Reaching the Building Efficiency Tipping Point

Our Scaling Building Efficiency Program is targeting four of the largest, most influential segments of the buildings market—major corporations, the General Services Administration, the Department of Defense, and activist cities—for deep and portfolio-wide retrofits.

Outlet Blog Post

Confessions of a Solar Decathlon Architecture Juror

Architects pour their souls into their art, and are more interested in a conversation about ideas than a medal. I’ve had my doubts that competition is a good way to generate wonderful designs, but frankly the 2013 Solar Decathlon, in which I was fortunate enough to be a juror, has generated some wonderful designs and important conversations.

Outlet Blog Post

“Going retro” may be architects’ job opportunity of the future

It is no secret that the architecture profession is struggling. The recession has devastated architectural practices across the country; in the past three years, the employment rate among architects has declined by 28 percent. Recent graduates with degrees in architecture report the highest unemployment rate in the country at 13.9 percent.