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Victor Olgyay, AIA



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.

Selected RMI Projects

  • RetroFit: the Commercial Building RetroFit Initiative––Victor is leading an initiative to encourage widespread adoption of comprehensive building energy retrofits resulting in energy savings of at least 50%. The initiative includes research, tool development and architectural consulting.
  • National Museum of African American History and Culture––Located on the National Mall in Washington DC, Victor is managing sustainable design and daylighting consulting for this new 300,000 square-foot Smithsonian Institution museum.
  • Ford Auto Dealership Retrofits––As part of the RetroFit initiative, Victor oversaw the audit, analysis and redesign of three pilot dealerships to save an average of 60% of their energy with a five-year pay back. RMI is current focused on rapidly expanding the energy savings over a large percentage of the dealership portfolio.
  • International Monetary Fund HQ1 Retrofit––As part of the RetroFit initiative, Victor is currently overseeing the sustainable design planning for this 1.9 million square for building in Washington, D.C. to reduce its energy use by 65 percent to 35kBtu /sqft.
  • Hilton Foundation Headquarters Building––Victor is overseeing sustainable consulting and daylighting design for a new 20,000-square-foot, carbon-neutral office building in Los Angeles, California.
  • Chicago Botanic Gardens Plant Science Conservation Center Laboratory Building––This new LEED gold high-performance laboratory features a green roof, and uses pond water for cooling condenser water. RMI assisted with integrated design, providing workshops, mechanical design advice and daylighting design. In 2010, the Science Center won the Laboratory of the Year Award from R&D Magazine.
  • High Performance Building: High Performance by Integrative Design Video––Victor led the production of this RMI video showcasing the process of integrated design using green building case studies.


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

Professional Affiliations

  • American Institute of Architects (AIA)

  • American Solar Energy Association (ASES)
  • American Society of Heating, Cooling, and Ventilation (ASHRAE)
  • ASHRAE 2020 Committee
  • Illumination Engineering Society of North America (IESNA)

  • Society of Building Science Educators (SBSE)

Faculty of U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) from 2002-2008

  • Adjunct Faculty of University of Hawaii School of Architecture

  • JCI Institute for Building Efficiency
  • National Academy of Environmental Design Research Committee

Selected Publications

  • "Sunlighting as Formgiver for Architecture," 1986, W.M.C. Lam, McGraw Hill 

  • "Concepts of Architectural Lighting," 2000, 2nd edition with M. David Egan, McGraw Hill
  • "Whole Building Retrofits: A Gateway to Climate Stabilization," (w C. Seruto) ASHRAE Summer Conference, Albuquerque, NM, June 2010
  • "The application of ecosystems services criteria for green building assessment," (w J. Herdt) Elsevier (Solar Energy 77 (2004) 389 – 398)
  • "Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: Environmental History As A Call To Action," (w J. Hainline and M. Miller) American Solar Energy Society Annual Conference, Phoenix, May 2010
  • "Crystallized Pedagogy: Architecture as a Medium for Sustainability Education," (w E. Bonnett) PLEA2009 - 26th Conference on Passive and Low Energy Architecture, Quebec City, Canada, 22-24 June 2009
  • "Green Footstep: A Tool for Evaluating a Building’s Life-Cycle Carbon Footprint and Informing Carbon Decisions During the Building Design Process," (w. M. Bendewald) AD, © 2010 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


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