Armoring Units: Polinom Port – Haifa

Polinom Port
Haifa, Israel

Product used: Bio enhancing armoring units

Duration: 2013-2016

In Short

As part of the construction of a new port in Haifa (Polinom Port), ECOncrete®’s armoring units were deployed and monitored in comparison to the standard Antifer units comprising the outer breakwater of the port. ECOncrete®’s environmentally sensitive technology, combining a bio-enhancing concrete admix, complex surface texture and species-specific design showed outstanding results. ECOncrete®’s armoring units supported double the species richness and biodiversity of invertebrates when compared to the standard Antifer units. In addition, ECOncrete®’s armoring units showed significantly greater fish diversity and reduction of dominance of nuisance and invasive species than standard Antifer units at the site.

Project Description

Coastal and marine infrastructure (CMI), often imposes much stress on fauna and flora of natural habitats. Concrete based CMI, provide poor substrates in terms of biological recruitment due to the combined effects of the concrete’s chemistry, featureless surface texture and high inclination compared to natural habitats. Considering the recent growth of world populations and rural development around coastlines, the effect of CMI on the natural environment is catastrophic.

In 2012, a new port named “Polinom” was constructed at the bay of Haifa, Israel. The breakwater of the Polinom is comprised of standard, featureless, cube shaped Portland cement armor units called “Antifers”. The construction of the Polinom provided an opportunity to compare the biological performance of standard Portland cement Antifers to ECOncrete®’s bio-enhanced armoring units. Both armoring units were monitored for biological performance over a period of 24 months (2013-2015).

ECOncrete®’s Approach

In the design of ECOncrete®’s armoring units, environmental and biological considerations were taken into account alongside constructive and engineering considerations. The environmentally sensitive design defers from standard concrete armoring units on three levels; concrete chemistry, surface complexity and macro-design. These three elements combined, mimic natural marine habitats and decrease the negative effect of coastal development. The mix is specially designed for the requirements of marine flora and fauna and the surface complexity mimics the one found in natural habitats. In addition, higher level surface elements offer refuge to larger marine life similar to natural habitats.


Monitoring results concluded that the ECOncrete® armoring units had more than twice the species richness and biodiversity of invertebrates compared to standard “gray” Antifer units. The taxa assemblage seen on ECOncrete®’s armoring units were extremely diverse including various species of oysters, sponges, Sabellidae, Serpulidae, tunicates, bryozoans and coralline algae. These communities contribute to water purification, increase habitat complexity, and attract a larger amount of native fish species. This trend was consistent throughout the entire monitoring period.
ECOncrete® armoring units had significantly greater fish diversity compared to the standard Antifer units, including the presence of key species completely absent from the standard Antifer units.

ECOncrete®’s armoring units had post larval stages of transient fish (Sparidae) and reduced dominance of nuisance and invasive species. In the 24 months comparative study, as many as two-thirds of the species observed on ECOncrete® armoring units were local, with the remaining one-third of the species being considered invasive species, while on the standard antifers an opposite trend appeared, in which invasive species where significantly more dominant.

Control and 24 Months POST deployment Images:

By integrating environmentally sensitive technologies into the design and construction of CMI, ECOncrete® is able to harness natural processes for ecological enhancement and reduce a structures’ ecological footprint. The improved design of the armoring units has several implications on the marine environment; such as increased native species richness and biodiversity, reduced dominance of invasive species, water purification and more.
Apart from its clear ecological significance, biological enhancement also provides structural and socio-economic benefits. Biogenic growth of organisms like oysters, corals or barnacles provides bioprotection; acting to strengthen the structure and add to its stability and longevity. This form of bioprotection can reduce the magnitude and frequency of structural maintenance, which translates into improved ecological stability (reduced anthropogenic intervention), as well as a higher ROI (reduced maintenance costs).

Future implications

Following the success of the Polinom pilot study, ECOncrete® has further improved the unit’s design for future deployments. ECOncrete®’s new armoring units have been designed as a multi-function unit, which can be fitted with different add-on elements for targeted ecosystem enhancement.
The unit can be placed as full armor, dispersed in-between rock armor, or left as stand-alone units (e.g., as an anchoring unit).

1) Fish Hub: Marine proof mesh for providing protected fish habitat
2) Oyster Hatchery Unit: Concrete disks pre-seeded with oyster spat
3) Oyster Shell: Marine proof mesh with pre-seeded oyster shell
4) Tidal Planter: Gravel and soil filled for growth of intertidal vegetation

ECOncrete® armoring units were selected as the key constructive elements in a large scale federally funded project that won the rebuild by design competition. The project called “Living Breakwaters” proposed by SCAPE Team, is now undergoing detailed design.

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