by Art Levy
Updated 4 yearss ago
Named one of Time magazine’s 100 best inventions of 2019, ECOncrete is a form of concrete that can be used to build seawalls and docks and as part of breakwaters, riprap, revetments and dikes. The material uses waste products including fly ash and slag as substitutes for the Portland cement used in traditional concrete, which requires more energy to produce and has a higher carbon footprint.
ECOncrete, says Shimrit Perkol- Finkel, an Israeli biologist and one of the company’s co-founders, can be cast in complex, 3-D textured surfaces that mimic natural reefs and promote the growth of oysters, corals, algae and other healthy marine life — “as opposed to standard, marine-grade concrete that typically induces very low-diversity marine communities, composed mainly of nuisance and invasive species.” The healthy marine growth encases the ECOncrete surface in calcium carbonate — a “biogenic crust” that helps “protect the concrete from erosion” and also acts to capture carbon dioxide.
ECOncrete costs between 1% and 2% more than regular concrete on big projects, like seawalls, and 10% to 15% more on small projects. The company says its concrete is 5% stronger than regular concrete and is more resistant to damage from chlorine.
The Israeli company was part of the Tampa-based Florida- Israel Business Accelerator’s 2018 cohort. Since then, ECOncrete has doubled in size — to 20 employees — and, working with Nova Southeastern University and Florida International University, has been used for projects around Miami.
The coronavirus hasn’t affected the projects that have been planning to use the material. “We work on long-term projects, often projects that take one-to-three years to plan, and such projects are not influenced on short-term periods,” Perkol-Finkel says. “People say that the construction industry is often the first to thrive after a market fall. I personally really hope that, post COVID-19, people will realize that we must make real changes and not go back to our old ways of operation. We must be more sustainable and in tune with our ecosystem and with natural processes, which is what ECOncrete is all about.”
Read more in Florida Trend's June issue.
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