A huge roof above a sports centre at City University collapsed on May 20. Luckily, no one was seriously injured.
The roof was part of the university’s green project.
It was later found that the roof was not designed to hold anything substantial, as indicated by the building plan that was submitted to the government. To support the vegetation, CityU would have required a roof five times stronger than the one that was actually used.
The question is: Who is accountable for the incident? But is seems that the officials are passing the buck.
It was also obvious that the entire green project lacked government supervision. Typically, any work of this nature needs to be approved by the Buildings Department. But since educational institutions are allowed to outsource their projects, it is up to the companies to decide whether to contact the Buildings Department.
Since these companies want to cut costs, they hire surveyors who say that the modifications need no formal approval.
Meanwhile, the government has been actively encouraging businesses to incorporate more green spaces.
Incidents like this understandably make people wary of green buildings. On top of this, the regulations surrounding these types of buildings are unclear. Because the government is trying to promote more green buildings without comprehensive regulations, it feels more like a token effort by the government than a real drive to build a greener
This incident has raised another issue: the hundreds of green projects on the roofs of schools in Hong Kong which may also be at risk.
We need to learn from this incident. To develop green buildings in Hong Kong, we need better regulations to ensure they are safe and that they meet international standards.
The government needs to introduce tougher regulations covering modifications made to buildings. This will help rebuild public confidence in green buildings.
Moreover, for the time being, more support should be provided to schools or other educational institutions that could be affected by these issues.
Passing the buck won’t solve anything. A more useful approach would be to see what can be done to prevent another accident like the one at CityU from happening again.