Hong Kong Heat Health Site Visits

Hong Kong has experienced increasing extreme temperatures for many decades. As a highly urbanized city with high population density, Hong Kong experiences heightened heat risk from many factors, including sub-divided housing units, an intense Urban Heat Island effect, an ageing society, and a large number of elderly residents living in care facilities. Hong Kong is a world leader in managing these issues- actively advancing interdisciplinary research, city management, planning and design, as well as public engagement and NGO efforts.

During the last day of the First Global Forum on Heat and Health, participants took a rare look into the heat health management challenges and solutions of Hong Kong.

Visit 1. Hong Kong Housing Authority - Exhibition Centre

Organized by Dr. Chao Ren of the University of Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Housing Authority Exhibition Centre is a showcase of public housing development in Hong Kong, as well as our work and achievements over the years. This visit began with a short talk given by the Chief Architect of the Hong Kong Housing Authority (HKHA), who introduced their successful practical experience on microclimate design since 2004.

In the compact 1 000-square-metre venue, there are informative display panels, interesting building models, nostalgic mock-up flats and myriad collections of photos and videos to tell you the story of Hong Kong's public housing. As you walk on the glass observation bridge overlooking the diorama of Hong Kong, you can obtain an idea of the magnitude of our public housing portfolio.

Nearly half of Hong Kong's residents live in some form of public housing. As prices of these public accommodates have risen, many residents have begun to seek accommodation in subdivided flats or bedspace apartments. These small, makeshift spaces are often not properly ventilated or cooled, contributing to the heat health crisis in the city.

Visit 2. Senior Citizen Home Safety Association

Organized by Dr. Chao Ren of the University of Hong Kong

In September 1996, the Senior Citizen Home Safety Association (SCHSA) was founded as a self-financing, not-for-profit organization providing 24-hour personal emergency support and caring service to elderly citizens in Hong Kong. The Senior Citizen Home Safety Association enhances the living quality of the elderly in the community through the use of technology, people-oriented services, and innovative methods, including special weather forecasts and information for the elderly.

Visit 3. Hong Kong Observatory Tour

Organized by Dr. T.C. Lee, Senior Scientific Officer and Mr. CW Choy, Scientific Officer of the Hong Kong Observatory

The Hong Kong Observatory is a government department responsible for monitoring and forecasting weather, as well as issuing warnings on weather-related hazards. The Observatory also monitors and assesses radiation levels in Hong Kong, and provides other meteorological and geophysical services to meet the needs of the public and the shipping, aviation, industrial and engineering sectors.

Amidst the hustle and bustle of Tsim Sha Tsui, the Observatory Headquarters enjoys a serenity uncharacteristic of this hectic business area. It is surrounded by rich fauna and flora, some of which quite uncommon in Hong Kong. The guided tour took visitors backward in time to trace the development of the Observatory in the past 130 years to see how weather forecasts are made and how technology is put to use.

Visit 4. Energy Poverty Lab - Simulated Subdivided Flat Tour

Organized by Ms. Gloria Chan of the Chinese University of Hong Kong

This field trip involved a trip to a simulation of Hong Kong's subdivided flats at the 'Energy Poverty Lab', built by the World Green Organisation (WGO), a non-profit concerned with the environmental conservation and its relation to livelihood and economic affairs. Through interactive household activities, this field trip to Hunghom provided a glance into how families may live in apartments less than 70 square feet.