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Green Chemistry

Green Chemistry at Gordon

Our department emphasizes green chemistry—a commitment to practice chemistry in a manner that is intentionally safer for human health and the environment. We believe that the green chemistry movement resonates with the character and commitments of Gordon College. Our mission statement describes Gordon as "a Christian community of the liberal arts, dedicated to the historic, evangelical, biblical faith". As such, this academic community looks to the Bible as our authoritative guide for Christian faith and practice, and one important theme we see in the Bible regarding the practice of Christian faith is its clear calling for Christians to be good stewards of all that God has given us. We also affirm the clear biblical teaching that God created the physical world, pronounced His creation good, and placed it under the care of humankind. Accordingly, we believe that the broad biblical calling to Christian stewardship entails the responsibility to practice wise stewardship of the physical world. The green chemistry movement seeks to promote chemistry that is by design environmentally benign, and as chemistry faculty members at Gordon College, we see this green chemistry imperative (as embodied, for example, by the Twelve Principles of Green Chemistry) as completely concordant with our Christian calling to care for the environment as God's good stewards. We find that our students share this vision of green chemistry as an outworking of their call to Christian stewardship, and they are enthusiastic about the opportunity provided by the ideas of green chemistry to see their study and practice of chemistry as directly connected to the practice of their faith.

As a founding member of the Green Chemistry Education Network, we are working at the forefront of the movement to make chemistry green by engaging in education and outreach activities that bring the principles of green chemistry to students, faculty, and the general public in New England and beyond. At Gordon you will have the opportunity to learn more about green chemistry and to join us in our efforts to make the practice of chemistry "benign by design."

The Chronicle of Higher education has listed Green Chemistry as one of the Hot Academic Jobs of the Future.

Learn more about what is happening at Gordon by clicking on our other green chemistry pages. For example, a recent graduate speaks about her discovery of green chemistry early on in her time at Gordon.

Green Chemistry

"Green chemistry, also known as sustainable chemistry, is the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances. Green chemistry applies across the life cycle of a chemical product, including its design, manufacture, and use."
-EPA Green Chemistry

The Twelve Principles Of Green Chemistry*

1. Prevention
It is better to prevent waste than to treat or clean up waste after it has been created.

2. Atom Economy
Synthetic methods should be designed to maximize the incorporation of all materials used in the process into the final product.

3. Less Hazardous Chemical Syntheses
Wherever practicable, synthetic methods should be designed to use and generate substances that possess little or no toxicity to human health and the environment.

4. Designing Safer Chemicals
Chemical products should be designed to effect their desired function while minimizing their toxicity.

5. Safer Solvents and Auxiliaries
The use of auxiliary substances (e.g., solvents, separation agents, etc.) should be made unnecessary wherever possible and innocuous when used.

6. Design for Energy Efficiency
Energy requirements of chemical processes should be recognized for their environmental and economic impacts and should be minimized. If possible, synthetic methods should be conducted at ambient temperature and pressure.

7. Use of Renewable Feedstocks
A raw material or feedstock should be renewable rather than depleting whenever technically and economically practicable.

8. Reduce Derivatives
Unnecessary derivatization (use of blocking groups, protection/ deprotection, temporary modification of physical/chemical processes) should be minimized or avoided if possible, because such steps require additional reagents and can generate waste.

9. Catalysis
Catalytic reagents (as selective as possible) are superior to stoichiometric reagents.

10. Design for Degradation
Chemical products should be designed so that at the end of their function they break down into innocuous degradation products and do not persist in the environment.

11. Real-time Analysis for Pollution Prevention
Analytical methodologies need to be further developed to allow for real-time, in-process monitoring and control prior to the formation of hazardous substances.

12. Inherently Safer Chemistry for Accident Prevention
Substances and the form of a substance used in a chemical process should be chosen to minimize the potential for chemical accidents, including releases, explosions, and fires.

* from Green Chemistry: Theory and Practice, Paul T. Anastas and John C. Warner. Oxford University Press: New York, 1998, p.30.

The Twelve Principles Of Green Engineering*

1. Inherent Rather Than Circumstantial
Designers need to strive to ensure that all materials and energy inputs and outputs are as inherently nonhazardous as possible.

2. Prevention Instead of Treatment
It is better to prevent waste than to treat or clean up waste after it is formed.

3. Design for Separation
Separation and purification operations should be designed to minimize energy consumption and materials use.

4. Maximize Efficiency
Products, processes, and systems should be designed to maximize mass, energy, space, and time efficiency.

5. Output-Pulled Versus Input-Pushed
Products, processes, and systems should be "output pulled" rather than "input pushed" through the use of energy and materials.

6. Conserve Complexity
Embedded entropy and complexity must be viewed as an investment when making design choices on recycle, reuse, or beneficial disposition.

7. Durability Rather Than Immortality
Targeted durability, not immortality, should be a design goal.

8. Meet Need, Minimize Excess
Design for unnecessary capacity or capability (e.g., "one size fits all") solutions should be considered a design flaw.

9. Minimize Material Diversity
Material diversity in multicomponent products should be minimized to promote disassembly and value retention.

10. Integrate Material and Energy Flows
Design of products, processes, and systems must include integration and interconnectivity with available energy and materials flows.

11. Design for Commercial "Afterlife"
Products, processes, and systems should be designed for performance in a commercial "afterlife."

12. Renewable Rather Than Depleting
Material and energy inputs should be renewable rather than depleting.

* From  Anastas, P.T., and Zimmerman, J.B., "Design through the Twelve Principles of Green Engineering", Env. Sci. and Tech., 37, 5, 95-101, 2003



Beyond Benign provides an approach and means for scientists, particularly those involved in green chemistry and sustainable science, to reach out to the public. Gordon collaborates with them on outreach efforts.


Greener Educational Materials for Chemists (GEMs) is an interactive collection of chemistry education materials focused on green chemistry compiled by the University of Oregon.


Greening Across the Chemistry Curriculum at the University of Scanton. Modules related to green chemistry that can be used in teaching.


From the American Chemical Society (ACS).


Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference in Washington DC. Gordon students and faculty often attend.

EPA site used to promote innovative chemical technologies.


Green Chemistry Network based within the Department of Chemistry at the University of York.


Journal from the publisher Taylor and Francis.


Green Chemistry journal from the Royal Society of Chemistry