Passivhaus Affiliate

Lessons on Passivhaus & Embodied Carbon

Passivhaus and Embodied Carbon webinar


In the past – operational energy overshadowed embodied carbon. As buildings become more energy efficient & we electrify everything – embodied carbon is a significantly larger slice of a smaller whole life carbon pie!

Our recent Passivhaus & Embodied Carbon webinar, attended by almost 100 delegates, helped address some misconceptions surrounding Passivhaus and embodied carbon. Engaging speakers covered several topics that raised an insightful Q&A panel discussion; We pick some highlights.


Key takeaways

2022 Passivhaus & Embodied Carbon Panel

L-R: Tim Martel - Sarah Lewis, PHT -  James Parker, Useful Projects - Rachel Mitchel, PHT -  Mark Siddall. LEAP

  • Sarah Lewis: Buildings account for 25% of total UK greenhouse gas emissions. Is embodied carbon the right metric, or is resource efficiency more appropriate as the grid & supply chain decarbonise? The production of raw materials & the environmental & pollution impacts must be considered. We must not forget all the other benefits of adopting a fabric first approach.

Passivhaus is nuetral on materials, but they matter
Passivhaus Embodied carbon postition paper slide


  • Rachell Mitchell: Passivhaus design can inherently reduce embodied carbon by championing compact and rationalised design. Optimised glazing, minimising complex junctions, and reduction of building services play a significant role in whole-life carbon reduction. A strong was case made for Passivhaus quality & resource efficiency which amplify longevity of materials and reduced maintenance. Learn more about the research behind the Trust's Embodied Carbon position paper

Embodied carbon in homes: Building Regs v Passivhaus
Embodied carbon of renewables comppared to the intensity of the grid

We cannot rely on renewables to offset demand – they all incur embodied carbon costs & vary greatly. 


  • Mark Siddall: Mark modelled a range of frame and glazing options from single to triple glazing in north-south orientations which have helped address common misconceptions. As well as drawing upon findings on the performance of components 25 years on - Detailed research concluded that triple glazing IS an appropriate choice when considering embodied carbon; Over-glazing and frame choice is a bigger concern than the extra pane of glass with regards to embodied carbon. 

Triple glazed windows lessons learned - Passivhaus and Embodied Carbon webinar


  • James Parker: An EnerPHit school, St Sophia's, revealed that 40% embodied carbon savings were made just by undertaking a retrofit rather than rebuilding the school. Build Less – aka a fabric-first retrofit echoed across presentations as an impactful way of reducing emissions. The project also highlighted the significant impacts of optimising heat pump specifications. The toxicity of refrigerants can vary widely. Low carbon refrigerants offer significant embodied carbon savings.

Carbon hot spots


  • Tim Martel: Already optimised for the latest version of PHPP (10.2), a live demo of the PHribbon embodied carbon calculating tool demonstrated how it calculates whole-life carbon costs. Timber must not be deemed as a miracle carbon-negative material – end of use must be considered. Burning timber is as bad as coal, releasing methane, a worse warming GHG than carbon.

PHribbon carbon calculating PHPP plug-in tool


Learn More

We hope the event demonstrated that building Passivhaus with low carbon materials yields a steadfast approach to achieving net-zero buildings. The Trust will continue to push for a greater understanding of the importance of addressing buildings operational energy and embodied carbon simultaneously. If you missed the event – the session is now available to purchase as a recording to watch at your leisure; This is accompanied by presentation slides and useful links compiled into a PDF event 'party bag.' 

Book Now

Meanwhile, browse both the new build & retrofit Passivhaus case studies that assess whole life carbon. Discover more about the relationship between Passivhaus and embodied carbon, alongside what activities the Trust are currently undertaking on our campaign page


Passivhaus and Embodied Carbon Position Paper 


Further Information

NEW Embodied Carbon position paper

Passivhaus & Embodied Carbon Webinar: On Demand

Passivhaus & Embodied Carbon


1st June 2022

Never miss UK Passivhaus news by joining the Passivhaus Trust mailing list Follow us on twitter @PassivhausTrust

< Back To News