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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

Building Inspiration Through an Iconic Retrofit

Originally posted by greenbiz.com. In the 1933 movie King Kong, the Empire State Building sets the backdrop for the ape’s climactic defeat. Throughout decades of art and culture, America’s favorite building has hosted tragedy and inspired grand solutions. The building magnifies our indomitable spirit and aspirations that carry America forward.

Outlet Blog Post

Zero Net Energy 2.0

Big Hairy Audacious Goals. Jim Collins and Jerry Porras described them in their book Built to Last as a success strategy of visionary companies. What exactly is a big hairy audacious goal (BHAG)?


Green Footstep: Calculations and Data Sources

Green Footstep is an online assessment tool for reducing carbon emissions from building construction projects and is publicly available at greenfootstep.org. The Green Footstep tool guides the user through the process of life cycle carbon assessment, and then reveals how users can theoretically reduce the net carbon emissions. Some description…


Whole-Building Retrofits: A Gateway to Climate Stabilization

This paper discusses creative elements of deep whole-building retrofits. It discusses process and technique, how to select suitable buildings, the key players that must be involved, project development tasks the design team must complete, and tools and skills that engineers will need to acquire to comprehensively and cost-effectively retrofit the…


Carbon Neutrality Based on Native-Site Carbon Storage

A certain amount of emphasis has been placed on carbon-neutral design lately in the buildings industry. The emphasis has thus far been on building-operation emissions and to a certain degree the embodied emissions of construction. In response to this increased interest in carbon neutrality, this paper discusses alternative approaches to…


Crystallized Pedagogy: Architecture as a Medium for Sustainability Education

The notion that human behavior is influenced by environmental conditions is not novel, though this dynamic is often overlooked and underappreciated in the construction of buildings and cities. Particularly in the field of sustainable or green building, focus is directed toward the impact of building-related human behavior on the environment.


Sense and Response: A Bioclimatic Dialogue of Place

Preindustrial societies had an intimate connection to their environments in part because survival was dependent on a constructive understanding. This resulted in fantastic forms of settlement that maintained a stable and sustainable relationship. Increasing use of energy and technical prowess allowed societies to loosen this relationship, at times becoming abstract…