Ports are at the forefront of environmental challenges associated with climate change and coastal development. To adapt, ports are leveraging innovative technologies and sustainable business models to revolutionize environmental stewardship and coastal ecosystem protection. In 2016, the Port of San Diego (Port) launched a unique Blue Economy Incubator Program to attract innovators and entrepreneurs with novel solutions to address the Port’s environmental challenges in areas such as environmental remediation and coastal resiliency. The incubator is a launching pad for sustainable aquaculture and Port-related blue technology ventures, providing funding, key assets, and support services for pilot project facilitation.
In 2019, the Port approved a two-year pilot project with ECOncrete, an eco-engineering company developing innovative bio-enhancing concrete infrastructure for the coastal, marine, and offshore industries. The pilot project will demonstrate the COASTALOCK armor, a redesign of the company’s award-winning interlocking tide pool armor. Through its Blue Economy incubator, the Port has committed $200,000 in funding, provided use of Port-owned property, assisted with obtaining all necessary regulatory permits, coordinated the installation of the pilot, and helped with community and media relations.
In 2021, in partnership with a local contractor, ECOncrete launched the installation of 74 interlocking single-layer COASTALOCK armor units across two riprap sites along the San Diego Bay shoreline – the first COASTALOCK installation worldwide. The interlocking units will provide structural, ecological and community engagement benefits, including carbon storage, and regeneration of local marine biodiversity. ECOncrete will conduct ecological and structural monitoring every six months for the first two years to evaluate the viability of the COASTALOCK system as an ecological armoring replacement to traditional riprap. Results from the pilot will demonstrate a trailblazing win-win approach to coastal protection by providing resiliency and adaptation strategies in an urban environment while simultaneously regenerating valuable marine life.