Tesco has implemented carbon emissions management software from CA in order to replace “laborious” spreadsheet based green IT management.

The UK’s largest supermarket chain implemented the CA EcoSoftware monitoring platform last month, in order to track and report on its carbon emissions, and to make better judgements on how to cut emissions in the future.

Tesco had been tracking the data on Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, which it said had become “difficult”, considering the data referred to 4,000 stores globally, distribution centres and offices, as well as its own offshore centre in India and its supplier data. The data is also in different languages around the world.

Simon Palinkas, head of green IT at Tesco, said the company had needed much better carbon emissions recording if the retailer is to meet its targets, set in 2007, of halving CO2 emissions by 2020, compared to 2006 figures. The company is also attempting to halve the emissions in its distribution channel by 2012.

“We needed a better way of measuring and reporting,” he told CIO sister title Computerworld UK. “We wanted a centralised system that’s out-of-the-box, with automated management, simple data entry, and instant visibility.”

The company implemented the software over the course of August, and has been testing it for the last month. It is now training relevant staff over the next week, with its second quarter data to August going live in two weeks.

The next planned steps include implementing real time data collection, but a date has not been set so far for this.

Tesco’s move also comes ahead of the Carbon Reduction Commitment, a mandatory carbon trading system that will come into effect next April, affecting large companies. Those that exceed their allowance will lose out financially.

In spite of the short timeframe before the CRC begins, Tesco was not alone in using spreadsheets to monitor its carbon emissions, analysts noted this week at a roundtable on the CRC.

David Metcalfe, director at green analyst house Verdantix, said research showed 63 per cent of firms still use spreadsheets to document carbon management. “This makes it very difficult for businesses to work out their emissions,” he said. “A lot of firms aren’t ready for the CRC and there’s going to be a panic.”