So it has been great to hear in the past week from several retailers that are placing monitoring and intelligent technologies at the heart of their plans to get greener.
At the end of last week, Asda strategy director Douglas Gurr revealed in a TV interview for BBC Look North that the company has achieved fuel cost savings of 23 per cent over the past three years and expects to achieve another 17 per cent reduction over the next three years.
Last year, Asda introduced a transport management system from Isotrack to help it monitor and manage its fleet of lorries that deliver to stores. The system is now being implemented in its home delivery vans.
Though drivers may not be enamoured with their sharp braking, engine idling and chosen routes all being monitored by the system, there is no doubt that it is cutting fuel usage.
Tesco also uses a transport tracking system, but at last week’s Retail Technology conference at Retail Solutions, Tesco revealed plans to take its use of intelligent technologies a step further.
Tesco group technology and architecture director Mike Yorwerth said that the grocer is investigating centralised building management systems. The retailer believes that it could cut its total carbon footprint by between 8 per cent and 16 per cent by managing and monitoring more closely how power is consumed at its sites.
These systems obviously have a carbon footprint in their own right. But the savings they can generate will be necessary if retailers are to reach their targets – for instance, Tesco wants to halve energy usage in its buildings by 2010.
For once, the notion that Big Brother is watching you can only be a good thing.
For more on how Tesco plans to slash its carbon footprint using IT see next week’s issue.