What makes a sustainability leader? Meet small business champions Crystal Doors

With the entry deadline for edie's 2022 Sustainability Leaders Awards approaching, this new feature series showcases the achievements of previous winners and reveals their secrets to success. Up next: Our Small Business of the Year, Crystal Doors.

What makes a sustainability leader? Meet small business champions Crystal Doors

Ready to follow in Crystal Doors' footsteps? Entries for the 2022 Awards close on 1 October 2021


Crystal Doors reached a crucial turning point in its mission to become the UK’s leading small manufacturer for climate action in 2020. With five years’ action and £1.5m investment under its belt, the business is on track to become fully carbon-neutral by 2022. From 2021, its carbon footprint will be 75% lower than 2015 – a reduction achieved entirely through in-house action.

The organisation claims it is proving that small businesses with limited resources can truly lead the way in

their industry and has documented its journey online, in a bid to encourage other businesses to follow suit.

In 2020, Crystal Doors declared a climate emergency and pushed forward its carbon-neutral target from 2030 to 2022, making it one of the UK’s most ambitious manufacturers. The organisation’s goal is to prove that another way of doing business is possible during the economic recovery from the pandemic.

Decarbonisation initiatives have included the installation of a rooftop solar array, which has now achieved a total capacity of 264kW. This means the business generates three times more renewable electricity than it consumes. As for heating, the business is gas-free and uses 100% renewable and self-supplied wood from the industrial sector.

Crystal Doors has also focused on energy efficiency, re-evaluating the performance of its building and has achieved an A+EPC rating (up from D), becoming one of just 500 commercial buildings in the UK to be carbon positive. Other focus areas have been transport emissions – some 60% of staff now use active or shared travel options when commuting – and low-carbon materials; Crystal Doors is the first UK company to have trialled a door vinyl made from recycled bottles.

For 2021, Crystal Doors forecasts that its Scope 1 (direct) and Scope 2 (indirect) carbon emissions will be 75% lower than in 2015. It also estimates that electricity consumption this year will be 75% lower than it would have been without any improvements.

Managing director Richard Hagan is the driving force behind Crystal Doors’ sustainability strategy and implementation. His commitment to sustainability is already well documented in the business’ region and, in a recent interview, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said other businesses should “follow Hagan’s lead” on decarbonisation.

The company’s progress is tracked against strategic objectives, which include: delivering net-zero carbon (all scopes); offsetting employee carbon footprints (achieved); Training employees in carbon literacy (achieved); switching to 100% wood waste renewable heating (achieved); fitting 100% LED lighting (achieved); maximising rooftop solar capacity (achieved); A+ EPC rating (achieved); achieving 100% renewable electricity (on-track); achieving zero-waste-to-landfill (achieved); reaching 100% cardboard/plastic recycling rates (achieved) and introducing carbon-neutral or circular products (on-track). Performance is monitored through KPIs such as half-hourly electricity consumption, solar generation, fleet diesel consumption, wood waste tonnage and recycling rate.

Crucially, Crystal Doors is proving that sustainability means profitability. The business describes its investment model as cash flow neutral, meaning that customers have seen no price increases due to investment in sustainability initiatives since 2015. It recorded record profits in 2020, despite lockdown restrictions. The NHS is one of the brand’s major customers.

edie’s judges were impressed not only by Crystal Doors’ work to align its own operations with best-practice approaches in reducing environmental impact, but by its efforts to engage others beyond its own ‘four walls’.

The business announced in 2020 that it will no longer work with suppliers or customers that are unable to demonstrate sustainability progress by 2022, encouraging other parts of the value chain to take equally ambitious action. 

Moreover, Crystal doors has been showcased as a leading example of best practice at countless virtual events via the likes of its local Chamber of Commerce, Business Growth Hub and The Manufacturer’s Sustainable Manufacturing Summit. As a result of this publicity, Hagan has spent a significant portion of his time in the months leading up to edie’s Sustainability Leaders Awards 2021 advising other businesses. 

What edie’s judges said: “Crystal Doors is a shining example of what is possible for all SMEs. Through a well-thought-out and fully integrated sustainability plan, the business achieved an impressive reduction in CO2 within a year after making a climate emergency declaration and setting a bold target to become carbon-neutral by 2022. A very deserved winner in what was one of the strongest categories at this year’s Awards.”

Are you our next winner?

After a tough and extraordinary year, edie’s RSA-accredited Sustainability Leaders Awards are back for 2022, bigger and better than ever – celebrating the incredible people, projects and partnerships that are accelerating climate action and transforming business, for good. 

Entries are now OPEN. The submission deadline for the 2022 Sustainability Leaders Awards is Friday 1 October 2021. The Awards is then set to take place as a live ceremony on the night of Wednesday 2 February 2022 at the Park Plaza London, Westminster. 

Our ‘Sustainability Leader of the Year’ category is among the 23 categories to choose from. Make sure you get the recognition you, and your team, deserve. ENTER THE SUSTAINABILITY LEADERS AWARDS 2022 HERE.

edie Staff 

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