Klaus Richter was born in Grebenstein, near Kassel, Germany, in 1957. After completing his schooling and military service, he studied wood science at the University of Hamburg, graduating in 1983. After spending one year as a scientific employee at the German Federal Research Centre for Forestry and Forest Products in Hamburg, he obtained a grant from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Council) to study the foundations and possible applications of dendrochronology (tree-ring dating) on the Iberian peninsula from 1984 to 1986. Throughout this period he enjoyed guest and working rights at the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) and the wood research institute attached to the Spanish Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Agrarias (INIA), both situated in Madrid. The material gathered during his research activities provided the foundations for his PhD thesis on dendroclimatology, which he completed in the biology faculty of Hamburg University in 1988.
In September 1987, shortly before completing his PhD, Klaus Richter became a scientific employee in Empas "Wood" laboratory, where he worked on subjects related to timber technology, particularly those connected with adhesives and surface treatments. From 1992 to 1993 he was also a visiting scientist at North Americas biggest wood research institute in Madison, Wisconsin (United States). Apart from his materials-focused activities, Klaus Richter has also worked on methods for energy and material flow analysis as well as environmental impact assessments of construction materials and building designs. He has also helped to develop concepts for promoting sustainability in construction. He directed the "Ecology and Sustainability" group, which is active outside the wood laboratory by virtue of its involvement in Empas Centre for Energy and Sustainability in Buildings (ZEN). Klaus Richter was Empas delegated representative in the "Research" project group of the "Sustainability in the ETH domain" strategy and was subsequently involved in formulating the "Sustainability at Empa" strategy as a sub-project manager in the "Knowledge management" project.
He has been teaching students of timber technology at Swiss and foreign academic institutions for several years and holds a teaching post at the ETH:
Klaus Richter lives with his family in Aathal-Seegräben.