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Grand Valley signs Green Chemistry Commitment

Posted on June 21, 2013

Grand Valley State University has joined a group of U.S. universities that are working together to raise awareness about the growing field of green chemistry.

The university is among the first to sign the national Green Chemistry Commitment, an agreement that states all chemistry majors, by the time they graduate, will have proficiency in green chemistry. Green chemistry focuses on understanding how chemicals affect human health and the environment, and lessening the toxicity and hazards of chemicals.

The commitment is led by an advisory board of faculty from chemistry departments across the U.S. It is facilitated by Beyond Benign, a non-profit that provides tools to educators to teach and learn about green chemistry to create a sustainable future.

Dalila Kovacs, professor of chemistry, said green chemistry practices are increasingly seen in many industries, including health care, and can be applied to product development, patent law and quality management professions. “Green chemistry includes long-term thinking, and researching and producing chemicals that are not toxic and not harmful in the long run,” she said.

Kovacs said Grand Valley is a leader in green chemistry education. In 2011, Grand Valley was one of a few universities in the U.S., including the University of California Berkeley, to offer a green chemistry certification program. Two courses in green chemistry are offered each semester, and the university hopes to add toxicology courses in the future.

“More and more, companies are seeking employees with sustainable skills that complement any job,” said Kovacs. “Being certified in green chemistry will bring in-house expertise and life-cycle thinking to companies hiring people for many different fields and industries.”

Kovacs joined representatives from other universities who signed the commitment at the 17th Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference June 18-20 in Maryland. She gave a presentation about Grand Valley’s program to green chemistry educators from across the country.

For more information about Grand Valley’s commitment to green chemistry, contact Todd Carlson, professor and department chair of chemistry, at (616) 331-3560, or Kovacs at or (616) 331-3806.

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