Adam James shares his experience working on Passive House projects


Adam James leads Ryder Architecture‘s Vancouver division. He has over 15 years of architectural practice, working across Canada, the UK, and Australia. Adam’s portfolio boasts a collection of structures that have achieved Passive House certification and showcase high-performance attributes through various sectors. The essence of Passive House is intricately woven into his work, underscoring his steadfast dedication to creating buildings that embody well-being, comfort, and efficiency.

The partnership between Ryder Architecture and i2C began in 2011 after the Directors of both companies met and were struck by the synergies and like-minded approach to design. The collaborative effort has become known as Ryder Alliance and now encompasses a network of 12 partner firms with over 1300 people in 26 cities, spanning several industries.

Adam established Ryder’s Vancouver office specifically to focus on high-performance buildings and Passive House projects.

Designing a passive house involves creating a highly energy-efficient building that requires minimal external heating or cooling systems to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature. Passive Houses rely on principles such as insulation, airtightness and ventilation to achieve their high level of energy efficiency.

tə šxʷhəleləm̓s tə k̓ʷaƛ̓kʷəʔaʔɬ The Houses of the Ones Belonging to the Saltwater
tə šxʷhəleləm̓s tə k̓ʷaƛ̓kʷəʔaʔɬ The Houses of the Ones Belonging to the Saltwater

Adam James explains the key elements of Passive House design.


Insulation works like a blanket, to reduce temperature fluctuations due to external weather factors. Ensure high levels of insulation in the walls, roof, and floor to minimize heat loss. Use quality insulation materials that provide good thermal resistance. Insulate beyond local building code requirements.


In tandem with insulation, an airtight building reduces unwanted air flow and heat loss. This involves careful sealing of joints, connections, and penetrations in the building envelope.

Windows and Doors:

Passive homes require high-performance double or triple-glazed windows that feature a thermally broken or non-conductive frame like uPVC. The idea is to maximise energy efficiency while eliminating any conductivity that would cause excessive heating or cooling into the home.

Thermal Bridge Prevention:

Thermal Bridges are areas in a home where heat escapes more easily, through certain materials or structural elements. A reduction in thermal bridges through careful detailing and using materials with low thermal conductivity will decrease the energy use of a residence.

Heat Recovery Ventilation:

A mechanical ventilation system with heat recovery exchanges stale indoor air with fresh outdoor air while recovering heat from the outgoing air. This helps maintain indoor air quality without significant heat loss.

i2C is working with Ryder to explore opportunities to implement Passive House principles on a number of projects. Adam and his team in Canada work with i2C’s Passive House certified team members to integrate this expertise on projects locally. We are seeing a lot more interest in these principles from our clients. We are excited by the positive impact high-performance buildings can have on the communities and environments we are designing for.

Adam shares his journey and learnings from his experience designing high-performance buildings in the UK and Canada through the following video.

i2C Architects

i2C Architects