Green Chemistry as a Case Study for a Framework for the Successful Implementation of Innovation for Sustainable Development

EPA Grant Number: F07C30542
Title: Green Chemistry as a Case Study for a Framework for the Successful Implementation of Innovation for Sustainable Development
Investigators: Matus, Kira
Institution: Harvard University
EPA Project Officer: Lee, Sonja
Project Period: January 1, 2007 through January 1, 2010
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2007) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , Academic Fellowships , Fellowship - Environmental Decision Making


Green Chemistry provides an ideal platform for the analysis of innovation for sustainable development. Currently, the chemical enterprise presents challenges to the environment, economy, and society, but also offers unique opportunities to advance the goal of sustainability through innovations in chemical product and process design.

Green chemistry has managed to make significant progress in the relatively short time-frame of its existence, despite the fact that its implementation often requires major changes to ways of framing and solving problems, in the design process for compounds and for manufacturing processes, and in the implementation of these practices.

The objective of this research project is to use green chemistry to explore the conditions under which such innovations can be deployed to achieve environmental and general sustainability goals.


In order to address the areas described above, this research will employ a qualitative, comparative case-based method of investigation. This includes one-on-one interviews with a variety of stakeholders involved in green chemistry cases from the private sector, NGO’s, academia and government. Site-visits of industrial scale green chemistry facilities will be undertaken where possible. The cases themselves will be drawn from a range of sectors within the chemical industry, with a geographic focus on the United States, India, and China. Interviews will be supplemented with the collection of data on the educational, policy and economic contexts in which the cases are situated.

Expected Results:

The data from the qualitative interviews will be used to construct a framework of how different factors affect how firms make decisions to change their environmental behavior through the implementation of the principles of green chemistry in their design and manufacturing practices. Of particular interest is the identification of those factors that are the result of, or can be changed by, the application of policy. This framework will refer back to the literature on innovation and sustainability in other fields, in order to come to more general conclusions about how, where and when these innovations for sustainable development can be implemented, and what policies are particularly effective at supporting them.

Supplemental Keywords:

Green chemistry, innovation, policy, sustainability, sustainable development, chemical industry,, Scientific Discipline

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2007
  • 2008
  • Final