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Issue 15 - January 2012


Table of Contents

Research Institute focuses on sustainable urban development

16 January 2012 marks the birth of the Research Institute for Sustainable Urban Development (RISUD), which was established by The Hong Kong Polytechnic University to develop and disseminate technologies and systems for sustainable high-density urban development. With the vision of being a world leader in the development and dissemination of technologies and systems for sustainable high-density urban development, the Institute comprises five divisions, viz, Urban Planning and Management, Urban Environment, Urban Infrastructure, Digital Technology in Urban Development, and Building Energy and Environmental Performance.  Its primary roles are: 

(1) to create sustainable solutions to problems generated by high-density urban development through multi-disciplinary, cutting-edge research;

(2) to engage in knowledge transfer activities through specialist consultancy and continuing professional training; and

(3)  to create significant positive impact on government policies and societal culture for sustainable urban development through services to professional and government organizations.

Ir Prof. Jin-Guang Teng, Dean of the Faculty of Construction and Environment, has been appointed as its Director, while Prof. Xiang-Dong Li, Associate Dean (Research) of the Faculty has been appointed as its Associate Director. While the key founding members of the Institute are all from the Faculty of Construction and Environment, it is expected that teams from other Faculties will join the Institute in the next few years to enhance the strength of the Institute in its multi-disciplinary research.

University Fellowship bestowed on Ir Mak

The latest batch of distinguished individuals to receive the title of University Fellowship includes an ex-Permanent Secretary for Development (Works), Ir Mak Chai Kwong. On 5 January 2012, he attended a conferment ceremony that was presided by the Honourable Ms Marjorie Yang, Chairman of the University Council, at the Jockey Club Auditorium on the PolyU campus. A long-serving civil servant of the Hong Kong government, Ir Mak recently retired after more than three decades of service. Dedicated to the university community, he has served as Chairman of the Advisory Committee for the Department of Civil and Structural Engineering at PolyU.

For his speech at the ceremony, please click on the following:


Ir Mak Chai Kwong

BSE researchers patented technology for monitoring water supply system

Hydro power has mainly been generated by large dams, but did you know it can also be harnessed inside narrow water pipes? The Water Supplies Department and PolyU researchers began collaborating in 2009 to study the feasibility of a hydro-powered generator to provide electricity for a system to monitor the water supply in remote, outlying areas. The prototype design was completed by the end of 2010. It was tested at four different locations in April 2011, including at Tseng Lan Shue in Clearwater Bay, Hoi Yuen Road in Kwun Tong, and the desalination plant in Tuen Mun. A patent for the technology was granted to the inventors, Mr Chen Jian and Prof. Yang Hongxing of the Department of Building Services Engineering, in early December 2011. Congratulations to both of them for their innovation.

A worthwhile project that costed about $500,000 and lasted over a year, its significance laid in the invention of a mini spherical turbine that could convert the surplus water pressure head of the water flow in pipes into electricity. Prof. Yang added that the range of applications for this hydro-powered system was broad. Not only can it be used in Hong Kong, it can also function in mainland China with the existing network of pipes. It is not necessary to build new pipelines. Wherever there are pipelines, it can be installed. Such convenience can improve the power supply conditions of remote areas where grid electricity supply is not available.


Prof. Yang showing the media his invention

Distinguished Chinese Scholars shared their wisdom in public lectures

The Faculty of Construction and Environment was honored to host two distinguished Chinese scholars, Prof. Liu Jingnan of Wuhan University and Prof. Zhong Wanxie of Dalian University of Technology, who delivered public lectures in their fields of expertise as part of the Distinguished Chinese Visiting Scholars Scheme. Started in 1994, the annual event has enhanced collaboration with mainland institutions. Participating scholars have excelled in their respective fields, as is the case with both our speakers. A member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, Prof. Liu is an expert in geodesy and surveying engineering, particularly the application of GNSS technology. His lecture on 23 November 2011 was on the current status, future development and latest testing results of Chinese Compass Navigation Satellite System. The mantra he lives by is “to think the imponderable, articulate what is possible, and do what is difficult to accomplish.”

A member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Prof. Zhong is an expert in engineering mechanics and computational mechanics. His lecture on 25 November 2011 was titled “Symplectic Mathematics in Applied Mechanics and Optimal Control.” To learn advanced technology, he feels it’s important to chart our own way than to simply follow others. It is inevitable that there will be obstacles in life. The young generation should take charge of its own direction and not be swayed by temporary gains or setbacks. The courage to innovate and set our own course is paramount to all else. For more details about his philosophy and background, go to:


Prof. Liu Jingnan

Prof. Zhong Wan-xie


Technology of CVP Lab improves site safety and project efficiency

2011 was a fruitful year for the Construction Virtual Prototyping (CVP) Lab at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. As a high-tech leader in the construction industry, CVP has developed the “Proactive Construction Management System” (PCMS) (or 雲建管 in Chinese) which takes the application of Building Information Modelling (BIM) to a new level. The PCMS takes a 4D model as a control platform. Using sensor technologies, including GPS and wireless networks, the PCMS facilitates real-time tracking of the positions of workers and machinery, thus automatically alerting workers of possible fatal interactions/collisions while simultaneously comparing the 4D model with site situation to ensure smooth time and cost performances of a project. The concept of PCMS is illustrated in Figure 1. A video of PCMS is available online at:


Fig. 1

Each year in Hong Kong, around 20 fatal accidents happen on construction sites, the most serious of which are “body falling from height” and “collision by and/or with moving equipment”. PCMS can avoid these tragedies by tracking all the movements of workers and heavy equipment on site, which will be recorded automatically on computers and shown in simulation models. Thus collisions between equipment and workers and/or among equipment will be eliminated. 

Moreover, PCMS has reinvented the way that project management is done. Traditionally, project managers have to be on site personally to make sure workers finish their jobs on time and with a certain quality. With PCMS, project managers can now sit in their offices to monitor workers on their computers. Real-time data of projects can be controlled by project managers, who can give orders to workers and correct their errors just when errors are about to happen. This will undoubtedly reduce the cost of management.

In short, CVP has been nothing but a leader of high-tech in the construction industry. It has undeniably changed project management for the better. No wonder the director of the CVP Lab, Prof. Heng LI, is one of the recent recipients of a Technological Improvement Prize from the Chinese Ministry of Education. Congratulations to him for his ground-breaking work.


FCE delegation visits the city of Ningbo

To explore opportunities for research collaboration in areas related to the environment, energy, and sustainable urban development, the Dean of the Faculty of Construction and Environment, Prof. Jin-Guang Teng, led an FCE delegation to Ningbo from 12-14 December 2011 in a reciprocal visit to an earlier trip made by a delegation from the Ningbo Science and Technology Bureau. Accompanying him on the trip were Emeritus Prof. Jan-Ming Ko, Prof. Xiangdong Li, Prof. Edwin Chan, Prof. Shengwei Wang, and Prof. Hongxing Yang, who were warmly welcomed by a contingent of officials from the Ningbo Science and Technology Bureau, the Ningbo Housing and Urban-Rural Development Committee, the Ningbo Planning Bureau, as well as the Ningbo Productivity Promotion Center. Through arrangements made by the hosts, the delegation visited the Ningbo Institute of Material Technology & Engineering of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, where the delegation was briefed on the impressive development of the Institute, as well as Ningbo University, the University of Nottingham-Ningbo, and the Ningbo Institute of Technology of Zhejiang University. They also met with the representatives of the respective institutions and had fruitful exchanges with them.


FCE delegation and their hosts

Before leaving Ningbo, the group visited the Ningbo National Hi-Tech Zone, which had experienced rapid growth in the last few years, as well as the Zhejiang Reclaim Construction Group. It was indeed a rewarding trip for all involved, since a number of potential collaborative opportunities were identified.

BRE alumnus shares insight of managing projects in China

On 21 December 2011, the Department of Building and Real Estate welcomed one of its earliest alumni in a lecture cum dialogue series that facilitated interaction and networking between current and former students. The star that evening was Ir TING Wah, who graduated from the Hong Kong Polytechnic in 1977 with a higher diploma in Building Technology and Management. Since then, he has put his knowledge to good use as a site planning engineer, sub-agent, and project manager for more than 6 years before moving into the project management and development of hotel facilities for the Wharf Group. He has been in charge of many overseas projects for the developer, and is now the Vice President (Project Development) at the Marco Polo Hotels Group.

Sharing his insight with students at the Chiang Chen Studio Theatre, Ir TING reminisced about his experience in managing projects in China, which began in the 80s when there were still good incentives and favorable terms for Hong Kong investors to do mainland projects. These included higher pay and hardship allowance for non-locals, i.e. those hired from Hong Kong etc. However, that period has now been replaced by a local hybrid approach, which has created challenges to human resources and construction professionals alike. Ir TING believes that many opportunities exist in mainland China because of its huge market, but graduates should have a good understanding of fundamental principles, including project management concepts and a strong sense of integrity, to take advantage of them. His advice was well received by the attentive audience, which included several professors from BRE besides the targeted students.



BRE academic tackles problem of heat stress

Health and safety have long been a concern for the construction industry. Although numerous safety systems appropriate for Hong Kong’s unique work environment have been implemented, there were still incidents of heat stress that were fatal for construction workers between 2008 and 2010. For example, when and how long breaks should be in certain circumstances is not clearly outlined by law. There are currently no comprehensive guidelines that specify the duration for construction workers to work in extremely hot conditions.

To ensure the health and safety of site personnel working in hot and humid weather, a set of good practices and indices have been jointly developed by researchers from PolyU’s Department of Building and Real Estate, Department of Building Services Engineering and the Hong Kong Institute of Education’s Department of Health and Physical Education. Ir Prof. Francis Wong, one of the investigators of the study, presented their findings in a seminar entitled “Heat Stress: A Study of Steel Bar Fixers in Hong Kong” on 23 November 2011 at the headquarters of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers.


Ir Prof. Francis Wong

More than 280 sets of synchronized meteorological and physiological data were collected from 4 construction sites during the summer of 2010. The heat tolerance time was computed using a multiple regression model with various parameters. It was found the major factors that determined construction workers’ physiological responses were age, drinking habits, and work duration. The heat stress model could also estimate the work and rest patterns for rebar workers with different parameters.

With the increasing awareness of health and safety in the construction industry, the findings from this study have supplemented current government guidelines. Prof. Wong added that in the future, the research would be extended to other trades besides rebar fixing. The results of this study have certainly been of value in reducing the occupational risk for construction workers.

PolyU Info Day for Taught Postgraduate Programmes

The PolyU Info Day for Taught Postgraduate Programmes was successfully held on 7 January 2012.  An annual event at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University for prospective applicants, it was kick-started on behalf of the Faculty of Construction and Environment by Prof. Geoffrey Shen, who introduced the Postgraduate Scheme in Construction and Environment in his capacity as its Chairman during an overview session. Break-out sessions for our ten taught postgraduate programmes were held immediately after it. This was a very good opportunity for prospective applicants to obtain in-depth information of our programmes by talking to our award coordinators.  There were more than 70 attendees for the overview session and about 150 for the break-out sessions.

Entry Scholarships are available for outstanding students.  For details, please visit  Applications for admission in 2012-13 can be submitted online at


PolyU collaborates with Tongji University in a summer course

This summer, about 40 first-year students from the Faculty of Construction and Environment (FCE) will have a chance to spend 2 weeks in late July at Tongji University in Shanghai. They will be taking a two-credit GE subject CE2000: Construction for Better Living, a course that will be co-taught by lecturers from both PolyU and Tongji University. This is part of our long-term collaboration with Tongji, which has been an active partner to many of our activities in mainland China. It is hoped that this course will benefit students from both universities and give them a chance to learn from one another.

FCE celebrates PolyU's 75th Anniversary

The celebration of the 75th Anniversary of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University is in full swing. In addition to a ball organized by the FCE Alumni Associations that will be held on 18 February 2012, there will be a reunion dinner for alumni of the MSc programme in International Real Estate on 5 May 2012 in Hangzhou. Jointly organized by the Alumni Affairs and Development Office as well as the Chinese Mainland Affairs Office, the reunion dinner will be graced by the President of PolyU, Prof. Timothy W. Tong, and our Faculty Dean, Prof. Jin-Guang Teng. A half-day forum on urban redevelopment will precede the dinner. Expected to draw around 150 participants, the forum will have several notable speakers, including prominent academics and practitioners from both China and Hong Kong.

Faculty Public Lectures

The Faculty of Construction and Environment was honoured to have the following speakers giving public lectures at PolyU:

Dr Arto Kiviniemi

FCE Public Lecture on 5 January 2012
Dr Arto Kiviniemi, Professor of Digital Architectural Design, Head of Design Directorate at the School of Built Environment, University of Salford, gave a public lecture titled “Global Drivers and Obstacles for Integrated BIM”. (Details)



Dr Rudi Seracino
FCE Public Lecture on 6 January 2012
Dr Rudi Seracino, Associate Professor, Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering, North Carolina State University, gave a public lecture titled “Towards the Rapid Repair of Damaged Reinforced Concrete Infrastructure”. (Details)

Invitation for Programme Admission 2012/13

Applications are now invited for the following taught postgraduate programmes. Students with outstanding academic records may be considered for scholarships along with admission. The deadline to submit applications is 1 March 2012 for all programmes.

Master of Science (MSc)/Postgraduate Diploma (PgD)

Building Services Engineering 屋宇設備工程學

Civil Engineering 土木工程學

Construction and Real Estate 建築及房地產學

Construction Law and Dispute Resolution 建築法及爭議解決學

Environmental Management and Engineering 環境管理及工程學

Facility Management 設施管理

Fire and Safety Engineering 消防及安全工程學

Geomatics (Geographic Information Systems) 測繪及地理資訊學(地理資訊)

Geomatics (Surveying) 測繪及地理資訊學(測量)

Project Management 項目管理

Sustainable Urban Development 可持續城市發展學

For programme details, please visit


Forthcoming Events

FCE Public Lecture - "September 11th, 2001 – September 11th, 2011: 10 years-10 Lessons on Sustainable Infrastructure"
Date: 9 February 2012(Thu)
Venue: AG710, Core A, Chung Sze Yuen Building, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

PolyU 75th Anniversary Faculty of Construction and Environment Alumni Associations' Ball
Date: 18 February 2012
Venue: Hotel ICON, 17 Science Museum Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East, Kowloon, Hong Kong

First International Conference on Performance-based and Life-Cycle Structural Engineering (PLSE 2012)
Date: 5-7 December 2012
Venue: Regal Kowloon Hotel, 71 Mody Road, Tsimshatsui, Hong Kong

The 5th International Symposium on Transportation Network Reliability (INSTR)
Date: 18-19 December 2012, Hong Kong
Venue: The Hong Kong Polytechnic University


Copyright © 2012 Faculty of Construction and Environment, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. All rights reserved.

Faculty of Construction and Environment Department of Building and Real Estate Department of Building Services Engineering Department of Civil and Structural Engineering Department of Land Surveying and Geo-Informatics