Stephen Richardson

Project Title:

Reducing Embodied Carbon in Supermarket Construction

Partner Organisation:

J Sainsburys plc

First Supervisor:

Dr Katherine Hyde

Second Supervisor:

Prof. John Connaughton

Project Description:

Sainsbury's has a vision to be the UK's 'greenest grocer'. With a continually expanding estate of stores, a big part of this is to transform the Carbon Footprint within their construction programme. Both Operational and Embodied Carbon are recognised as equally key to meeting future decarbonisation goals. There is already a clear strategic reduction plan in place for Operational Carbon with stretching goals (see 20 by 20 Plan). This Engineering Doctorate will develop and deliver a similar plan and roadmap for reducing Embodied Carbon across Sainsbury's estate.

The project will consolidate and validate Sainsbury's existing Embodied Carbon data and develop a staged road map of 'quick wins' and longer term goals to reduce the environmental impact of their construction programme.

Furthermore, the research will shed light on the embodied carbon of the ongoing refurbishment and refit programme of supermarket stores and aims to develop decision making tools to assist procurement officers within the company to choose products with lower environmental impacts.

Project Poster:

Stephen's research poster

Student Profile:

Stephen's background is in designing low energy buildings and he has several years experience as an engineering consultant in the construction industry. He graduated from the University of Sheffield (UoS) with a First Class Master of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering with German. In 2007 his team won the UoS Department of Mechanical Engineering's Business and Enterprise Challenge.

Stephen's interest in this project stems from a passion for the built environment and a conviction that businesses must take the lead if UK plc is to achieve its ambitious carbon reduction targets.

"I believe that Sainsbury's has a unique position of influence in the market, with its extensive supply chain, 22million weekly customers and growth of 1million sq ft of retail space in 2012. With this research I hope to be able to shape a small part of the strategy which will help Sainsbury's to maintain its leading role as one of the top sustainable businesses in the country."

Associated/Relevant Research Groups/Centres:

Embodied Carbon Research Group
Association of Engineering Doctorates


EPSRC and J Sainsbury plc

Expected Completion Date:

Autumn 2016

Why did you choose Reading?:

"The team at Reading's TSBE Centre particularly impressed me with their proactive approach to attracting top business partners and high calibre researchers. This unique opportunity to gain a professional doctoral qualification from a highly ranked University whilst working in close collaboration with a FTSE 100 company was too good to pass up."


MEng (Hons): Mechanical Engineering with German
CIBSE Low Carbon Consultant (not currently registered)
Code for Sustainable Homes Assessor (not currently registered)
EDI Foreign Languages at Work: Level 4 German


Please check back soon for details of publications as they are accepted.

Journal papers

Conference papers

Richardson, S.T., Hyde, K., Connaughton, J.., Merefield, D., 2014. Service life of UK supermarkets, origins of assumptions and their impact on embodied carbon estimates. Poster presentation at World Sustainable Building Conference, Barcelona, Spain, October 28-30, 2014
Richardson, S.T., Hyde, K., Connaughton, J.., Merefield, D., 2014. Service life of UK supermarkets. 5th Annual TSBE EngD Conference Proceedings, University of Reading.
Richardson, S.T., Hyde, K., Savljevic, M., Merefield, D., 2013. Tackling embodied carbon in UK supermarket construction. 4th Annual TSBE EngD Conference Proceedings, University of Reading.

Book chapters

Co-author: UKGBC Task Group Report, 2014, Building Zero Carbon - The case for action, available from:




  • Member - UK-GBC Task Group: Defining Zero Carbon for Non-domestic Buildings in 2019
  • Guest lecturer - Sustainable Design, Construction and Operation, School of Construction Management, University of Reading
  • Winner: Climate-KIC PhD Summer School - Energy Transition in Frankfurt: Overcoming Barriers to Change
  • Co-organiser of TSBE event for UKGBC Embodied Carbon Week 2014: Linking academic research with industry innovation


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