Multiple Universities Sign the Green Chemistry Commitment

The University of California Berkeley, University of Minnesota, and Northeastern University are among twelve colleges and universities that have signed the Green Chemistry Commitment, a consortium that designs and develops innovative, efficient, and environmentally sound chemical products and processes.

Twelve colleges and universities that are initial signers of the Green Chemistry Commitment, making them part of the first national effort to transform university chemistry education. The Green Chemistry Commitment (GCC) is a consortium of universities and industry partners designed to create systemic and lasting change in university-level chemistry education, and to increase the number of green chemists and scientists in the U.S. and the opportunities available to them in the field.

The Green Chemistry Commitment is organized by Beyond Benign, a non-profit foundation created and led by green chemistry scientist Dr. John Warner. Beyond Benign and the Green Chemistry Commitment will be presenting a session about the GCC at the 17th Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference in June 2013.

As an academic and industrial field, green chemistry encourages chemists and scientists to develop safer, non-toxic, renewable chemistry and materials. A 2011 report from Pike Research forecasts that the worldwide green chemistry industry will soar to more than $100 billion by 2020 from less than $3 billion in 2011, with more than $20 billion of that growth in the U.S. The use of green chemistry will save the chemical industry more than $65.5 billion by 2020.

Supporting green chemistry education gives chemical companies a competitive advantage by providing a quicker time to market by reducing the environmental impact of manufacturing, reducing worker injury by minimizing exposure to toxic chemicals, processes, and waste; and increasing efficiency and productivity of new employees who are better prepared after graduating from academic programs.

"When we modify our teaching labs by substituting drugstore-variety hydrogen peroxide and other greatly reduced toxicity chemicals instead of hazardous solvents and suspected cancer-causing agents, we show the principles of green chemistry in action," says Professor Irv Levy, Chemistry Department Chair at Gordon College. "Students learn the same concepts and principles of chemistry they need, but they also learn how to achieve results in a way that's safer for them, the community, and the environment. It's just the right thing to do."

By signing the Green Chemistry Commitment, colleges and universities agree that, upon graduation, all chemistry majors will have proficiency in the essential green chemistry competencies of theory, toxicology, lab skills, and practical application. The GCC's flexible framework gives participants access to experts, shared resources, and a collective voice that can work with the unique needs and constraints of any individual institution.

"The goal of green chemistry is for the term to disappear and it simply becomes how we practice chemistry," says Dr. John Warner, co-founder and president of Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry, president of Beyond Benign, and a founder in the field of green chemistry as co-author of the seminal 1998 book Green Chemistry: Theory and Practice. "One day, we'll be able to clean up a tanker's chemical spill with water and a broom. It might take decades to get there, but that is what green chemistry will achieve."