Are our residential buildings healthy and safe? A survey in Hong Kong

Siu Wong WONG*, Alex King Chung CHEUNG, Yung YAU, Daniel Chi Wing HO, Kwong Wing CHAU

*Corresponding author for this work

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

28 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose - The most fundamental requirement of a habitable building is that its occupants can live in it healthily and safely. However, given the proliferation of building-related accidents recently in Hong Kong, the extent to which our buildings have fulfilled this basic requirement is doubtful. For the benefit of the entire society, more public information on building quality is needed. Aims to address this issue. 

Design/methodology/approach - This paper extends the Ho et al. assessment model to evaluate the combined health and safety performance of residential buildings in Hong Kong. The model consists of a performance-based objectives and can be translated into a hierarchy of parameters concerning the quality of building design, building management, and the surrounding environment. A total of 99 residential buildings in two urban areas, namely Mongkok and Tsimshatsui, were assessed with the help of a simple and user-friendly performance indicator called the Building Quality Index (BQI). 

Findings - The comparative analysis showed that the overall health and safety performance varied significantly with building age and development scale. Building location did not matter in overall performance, but became relevant in disaggregate performances regarding the external environment and building management approaches. 

Research limitations/implications - In theory, building management and building location are not related. Further research is needed to disentangle the management effect from the location effect. Practical implications - The assessment method is a simple and cost-effective screening tool for mass building assessment at the city level. It can also be used for classifying buildings into different grades in respect of health and safety, providing incentives to building owners, developers, and government bodies to improve the living environment. 

Originality/value - The study contributes to a better understanding of the relationship between building performance and its physical characteristics, including location, age, and development scale, in a densely populated high-rise urban area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-86
Number of pages10
JournalStructural Survey
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support provided by the Research Grant Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKU 7107/04E and HKU 7131/05E), the Small Project Funding of The University of Hong Kong and the HKU Research Group on Sustainable Cities Seed Grant. They also thank the comments made by the participants of the CIB W70 Facilities Management and Maintenance Symposium 2004 held in Hong Kong and the 2005 World Sustainable Building Conference held in Tokyo.


  • Buildings
  • Health and safety
  • Hong Kong
  • Residential property


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