October 16, 2022

Carbon Fiber Seismic Upgrade

Carbon Fiber Seismic Upgrade | HJ3's Civil carbon fiber system seismically upgraded this concrete building in only 7 days, for far less than steel upgrades.

The Mandatory Soft Story Program has been put into effect to avoid earthquake damage. Photo Credit: San Fransisco Department of Building Inspection (sfdbi.org)

Unlocking Seismic Safety: HJ3's Carbon Fiber Solution for California Building Upgrades

Application Details

California, with its perpetually active fault lines, is no stranger to the seismic forces of nature. In response to this ever-present threat, many buildings in the state are now undergoing seismic upgrades to protect against potential earthquake damage and safeguard lives. The Mandatory Soft Story Retrofit program, initiated in 2013 by the Department of Building, has been a pivotal step in this endeavor. This program mandates the seismic upgrading of "all older, wood-framed, multi-family buildings in San Francisco with a soft-story condition."

While the retrofitting mandate targets specific structures, many California buildings constructed from concrete are not legally obligated to upgrade. However, several building owners are proactively choosing to strengthen their properties. One such owner recently enlisted the expertise of HJ3 to execute a seismic upgrade for their building. They opted for HJ3's remarkable Civil™ system, renowned for its extraordinary strength.

The seismic upgrade entailed installing over 3,900 square feet of HJ3's cutting-edge carbon fiber, featuring a staggering 1,700 carbon fiber anchor dowels. These reinforcements were meticulously applied to multiple concrete walls, significantly enhancing their shear and flexural capacity.


Before the installation of the HJ3 Civil™ Seismic Upgrade system, the walls underwent thorough cleaning to eliminate dust and debris. Holes were drilled into the walls at 2-square-foot intervals to ensure an even distribution over the Carbon Fiber-Reinforced Polymer (CFRP) wrapped region. Following the drilling, the carbon fiber fabric was saturated with resin and meticulously applied to the walls. Carbon fiber dowels were then strategically positioned. To create a seamless finish, a few inches of loose carbon fibers were left to feather out radially along the newly strengthened walls before the application of HJ3's ultra-durable topcoat.


The entire seismic upgrade project was completed successfully within a mere 7 days. Beyond fortifying the building against potential earthquakes, the decision to utilize carbon fiber technology resulted in substantial savings on costs, downtime, and environmental impact, especially when compared to traditional steel upgrades. Additionally, given that carbon fiber weighs a mere four ounces per square foot, opting for this ultra-light fabric introduced virtually no additional weight to the already substantial concrete structure. In contrast, choosing a steel upgrade would have substantially increased the structure's weight, posing potential risks.

Should you have a building in need of seismic upgrade or retrofit, and wish to explore the advantages of HJ3's carbon fiber systems, do not hesitate to contact us today at info@hj3.com.

HJ3's Carbon Fiber is applied to one of the walls.

Carbon fiber anchor dowels are installed at 2-square-foot intervals.

seismic upgrade - dowel topcoat




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