Sainsbury’s to heat customers’ homes

  • Partnership with Imperial College London to help Sainsbury’s dramatically reduce its carbon footprint and provide solutions to future impacts of climate change

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Justin King, chief executive of Sainsbury’s has been using his speech at the BASE conference on Tuesday, March 16, 2010, to announce a partnership with Imperial College London’s Faculty of Engineering and Grantham Institute for Climate Change. The partnership has been officially launched on 16th March and initially last for 5 years.

The purpose of this partnership is to inform the delivery of Sainsbury’s ambitious ‘future stores’ plans by researching and delivering innovative and practical solutions to the future impacts of climate change as well as helping Sainsbury’s dramatically reduce its carbon footprint.

The partnership will deliver real outputs and aims to provide the partners with a commercial legacy; the intellectual property of any products or research jointly developed will be commercially owned by the partnership.

Plans are underway for how Sainsbury’s stores in the future might provide heat and recycled water to customers’ homes, as well as help customers to manage their waste streams. Other initiatives include for example, Smart Grid technology, which will help reduce Sainsbury’s energy demand, with a possibility for taking stores completely off grid. These solutions would reduce the reliance on a strained UK power network.

Neil Sachdev, commercial director for Sainsbury’s, said “We are delighted that Imperial College London is working with Sainsbury’s in this partnership – one that our customers will see in the form of unique ‘future stores’. The challenge of climate change needs bold leadership but ultimately it is action that counts and I am eager to see this relationship bear real fruit.”

Commenting on the partnership, Professor Sir Brian Hoskins, Director of the Grantham Institute said: “This new partnership will bring cutting edge research to mitigate some of the most pressing climate change issues in the consumer retail sector. I welcome the opportunity to work with Sainsbury’s, and look forward to the advances that they can make with our input.”

Professor Nilay Shah from Imperial College London said: “As a team, we plan to work together on using engineering to develop new low-carbon store concepts, and help ensure that business is well positioned to respond to the effects of climate change.”

The Grantham Institute for Climate Change is committed to driving climate change related research and translating it into real world impact. Established in February 2007 with a £12.8 million donation over ten years from the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, the Institute’s researchers are developing both the fundamental scientific understanding of climate change, and the mitigation and adaptation responses to it. The Institute intends that this work should be directly relevant to policy and decision makers. The Grantham Institute is unique among climate change research centres because it is situated at the heart of Imperial College London, one of the world’s leading science, technology and medicine universities. The policy and outreach work that the Institute carries out is based on, and backed up by, the leading edge research of the College’s academic staff. For more information on all the Grantham Institute’s activities visit

Consistently rated amongst the world's best universities, Imperial College London is a science-based institution with a reputation for excellence in teaching and research that attracts 14,000 students and 6,000 staff of the highest international quality.

Innovative research at the College explores the interface between science, medicine, engineering and business, delivering practical solutions that improve quality of life and the environment - underpinned by a dynamic enterprise culture.

Since its foundation in 1907, Imperial's contributions to society have included the discovery of penicillin, the development of holography and the foundations of fibre optics. This commitment to the application of research for the benefit of all continues today, with current focuses including interdisciplinary collaborations to improve health in the UK and globally, tackle climate change and develop clean and sustainable sources of energy.


“Respect for Our Environment” is one of Sainsbury’s five Corporate Responsibility values. It focuses on a number of key workstream areas: Energy, Water, Waste, Transport, Product sustainability, Supplier Resources, Customer Recycling, Green Products & Services and Community Hubs. Sainsbury’s has an industry leading ‘A rating’ in Consumer Focus’s ‘Green to the Core?’ survey of UK leading supermarkets.

Sainsbury’s Greenwich store opened in September 1999 and when launched the store was the world’s first low energy superstore. The design concept of the building was to provide a store to be up to 50% more efficient than a standard supermarket and to experiment with design features that could become standard in future stores. The store was refurbished and updated in 2008, bringing about a further energy reduction of 20 per cent.

In Feb 2010 Sainsbury’s opened their fourth eco-store in Westhoughton, the store is the first in Europe to feature a biomass generator.

From that list Sainsbury's must be one of the leading innovators, as far as supermarkets and businesses go, in regards of implementing environmentally friendly practices.

Another thing is that Sainsbury's has been involved with Fairtrade now for a number of years and all their bananas, for instance, including those in the Basics range, are all Fairtrade certified. The same, so I understand, is true for all Sainsbury's own labels of tea. One more reason for me to drink Sainsbury's blends of tea, with my favorite being Red Label.

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