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City University roof collapse

Chinese University of Hong Kong to remove green roofs, Buildings ­Department issues new guidelines to schools for immediate safety checks

The move, from Chinese University, came as the Buildings ­Department issued a green roof safety guideline for primary and secondary schools

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 May, 2016, 1:41pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 May, 2016, 11:42am

Chinese University ­announced plans to remove ­vegetation grown on six huts next to its sport field yesterday, as the Buildings ­Department issued a green roof safety guideline for primary and secondary schools.

The university said in a ­statement yesterday that it was ­removing rooftop vegetation that was part of an “experiment” and was now considered useless.

The statement came four days after a green roof at CityU ­collapsed, triggering city-wide concerns over the lack of ­supervision for green roofs.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said yesterday that an inter­departmental meeting to review green building policies has been held - his first comments on the incident since it happened.

“It is true that we have a green building policy,” Leung said. “But it is most important for the building to meet the government’s safety requirements in its ­design, construction, use, maintenance and repairing.”

‘I sensed the roof was going to collapse’: CityU security manager tells of lucky escape as he and students made last-minute evacuation

CUHK said 10 green spots on the campus, ­including rooftops and podiums, had obtained ­approval from the government. However, at the end of the statement, it said the school was planning to remove vegetation on top of six tin huts next to the Sir Philip Haddon-Cave Sports Field.

It said the greenery was planted “several years ago when the university was conducting an ­experiment on vertical greening”, but it had been completed and there was no value in keeping it.

A spokeswoman for CUHK said the vegetation, which was around 40mm thick, was used in experiments on shading and heat radiation. She said the university would speed up ­removal of ­vegetation to prevent unnecessary concerns.

The six huts are used as ­laboratories, a gym room, library, generator room and for storage.

Government advised to tighten green roof standards nine years ago

“I do not think it is necessary to remove the vegetation, since there is no danger at all,” said ­ ­ Chau Kwai-cheong, a geography professor at the university.

Chau said the huts are special to the university’s history as they used to be temporary dormitories to house the first batch of students before proper housing was built.

Henry Cheung, 19, a second-year student, said: “They are made of tin and are already pretty old, they may be a little dangerous,” Cheung said.

Lingnan University and ­Polytechnic University have said they are also now ­carrying out safety checks on green roofs.

Hong Kong Baptist University may have breached green roof rules

The Buildings Department’s guidelines, which came with a ­letter from Education Bureau ­asking schools to check if their green roofs were safe, said they should seek advice as soon as ­possible from ­authorised persons or ­structural engineers if they had plantations on inaccessible roofs on halls, sports centres, canteens or libraries, or greenery grown on cantilever structures or roofs with pools.

CityU will today release a preliminary report on the safety of other green roofs on its campus. The university said they hired a structural engineer and authorised person to carry out the projects, ­although surveyor Kenneth Chan Jor-kin denied he was the ­authorised person earlier. A companies search shows Chan had been closely associated with Sinoway Construction Engineering Ltd, the contractor hired by CityU to carry out the work.