A survey of the health and safety conditions of apartment buildings in Hong Kong

Daniel Chi Wing HO*, Kwong Wing CHAU, Alex King-Chung CHEUNG, Yung YAU, Siu Kei WONG, Hing Fung LEUNG, Stephen Siu-Yu LAU, Wah Sang WONG

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

62 Citations (Scopus)


A high-density built environment poses challenges to the idea of sustainable development in respect of health (e.g. SARS outbreak) and safety (e.g. fire and structural problems). To examine the seriousness of the high-density problem, this study aims to survey the health and safety performance of apartment buildings in a densely populated city, Hong Kong, using a simplified assessment scheme. An assessment scheme based on a hierarchy of building performance indicators concerning the quality of: (a) architectural design, (b) building services design, (c) the surrounding environment, (d) operations and maintenance, and (e) management approaches was developed. One hundred forty (140) apartment buildings were surveyed and assessed through site inspections, desk searches, and interviews. A performance analysis was conducted to examine and compare the overall health and safety performance of the buildings. We found that there were considerable variations in health and safety conditions across buildings, even though they are located within a single district. Most of the variations in building health and safety conditions were attributed to differences in building management systems rather than building design. Enhancing strategic management approaches (e.g. a better delineation of owners' rights and duties) appears to be the most critical factor that underperformers should consider in order to improve their buildings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)764-775
Number of pages12
JournalBuilding and Environment
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2008
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support provided by the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKU 7107/04E and HKU 7107/04E), the Small Project Funding of The University of Hong Kong, and the HKU Research Group on Sustainable Cities Seed Grant. We are also grateful for the comments made by the participants at the CIB W70 Facilities Management and Maintenance Symposium 2004 held in Hong Kong and the 2005 World Sustainable Building Conference held in Tokyo.


  • Building quality indices
  • Health
  • Hong Kong
  • Performance assessment
  • Safety


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