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Department of Building Services Engineering

Doctor of Philosophy / Master of Philosophy

Sept 2021 Entry



The Department of Building Services Engineering (BSE) was officially established in December 1981, and has become one of the largest BSE departments worldwide. As a leading provider of trained professionals in building services for the unique environment of Hong Kong, research in BSE focuses on the quality of the environment, energy efficiency and use of renewable energy, the safety and resilience of buildings to effectively address the contemporary concerns and future challenges of urban environments. Its core mission is to devise and improve engineering systems to promote the health and well-being of building occupants by providing sanctuary from the elements and the extremes of temperature, noise, light, toxins and pathogens at the lowest cost in energy and resources. It offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes serving the needs of local industry at various levels.


The research in the Department is comparable to that at the most highly reputed universities worldwide and contributing in the discipline of Architecture/Built Environment and Engineering (Civil and Structural) ranked 22 and 19 respectively by the latest QS World University Rankings. The expertise of BSE academic staff spans a wide range of disciplines, including aspects of sustainability; building energy, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems; fire and safety engineering; electrical technology; public health; indoor environmental engineering; architectural engineering; computer-aided design and facilities management.

Research Areas

Research Areas

Building and Environment

  • Advanced lighting systems
  • Building acoustics, noise and vibration control
  • Building performance simulation and rating methods
  • CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) and air-flows inside and around buildings
  • Designs for indoor environmental quality
  • Energy efficient building and advanced system technologies: radiant cooling, thermal energy storage and functional materials
  • Environmental economics and behaviour
  • Human and environment interaction
  • Indoor air pollutant dynamics
  • Indoor air quality
  • Indoor environment modelling and control
  • Lighting quality
  • Pollutant dispersion in buildings and urban environment
  • Urban microclimate
  • Ventilation for health and infectious disease control
  • Wind and thermal comfort

Building Energy

  • Advanced air-conditioning and zero energy/emission building research
  • Big data analytics on building energy systems
  • Building demand management and response towards smart grids
  • Building system design/control optimisation and diagnosis
  • Building system simulation and performance assessment
  • Optimisation of complex A/C systems (data centre, cleanroom, district cooling, etc.)
  • Renewable energy applications in buildings: solar energy, wind energy and ground source heat pump technologies
  • Smart building and building automation technologies

Building Safety and Resilience

  • AI applications in fire safety engineering
  • Aircraft and spacecraft fire safety
  • Atrium fires
  • Computational fire modelling
  • Electrical fires
  • Electrical safety
  • Facade fire in supertall buildings
  • Fire ecology
  • Fire protection systems
  • Fire safety of green and sustainable architectural features
  • Fire safety in Wildland-Urban Interface
  • Fires in transport infrastructure (tunnels, bridges etc.)
  • Large scale structural and fire testing
  • Safety from lightning hazard
  • Smart firefighting
  • Sprinkler and water mist systems research
  • Structural analysis under fire
  • Structures and materials in fire
  • Subway station, long tunnels and public transport terminals
  • Thermal safety of new energy technologies
  • Wildfire dynamics and extreme fire behaviours

Electrical Services

  • Electrical power quality
  • Electrical safety
  • Electromagnetic modelling and shielding
  • Lightning protection and detection

Facility Management

  • Building information modelling (BIM) for FM
  • Commissioning and reliability of facilities
  • Energy management and carbon footprint analysis
  • Facility operation and maintenance
  • Facility planning and design
  • Facility support services management
  • FM economics and finance
  • Information and communication technologies for FM
  • Internet of things (IoT) for FM
  • Legal and environmental issues in FM
  • Outsourcing and contracts
  • Performance assessment and benchmarking
  • Strategic asset management
  • Workplace ecology and management

Research Facilities

Research Facilities

A full range of facilities and equipment are available in the Department of Building Services Engineering (BSE) to support teaching, research and consultancy work. The specialist facilities include the following.


Acoustics Laboratory


This lab is equipped with all essential and advanced equipment for the study and measurement of sound and vibration (both indoor and outdoor). There is an acoustics testing chamber that conforms to ISO/BS/ASTM standards for testing sound transmission loss, sound absorption and machine sound power.


Building Energy and Automation Research Laboratory


The Building Energy and Automation Research Laboratory facilitates research on building energy efficiency and the use of modern IT/computing technologies to improve building energy performance. It has developed a building system online performance simulation platform and a building automation control and diagnosis strategy online test platform, in addition to various tools for building performance diagnosis and optimisation. Developing and managing a centralised energy monitoring and assessment platform to monitor and control the energy performance of PolyU’s campus buildings, the lab also helps many local developers and building owners to develop optimal and energy-efficient control strategies and optimised control instrumentation solutions to improve the energy efficiency of their buildings.


Design and Development Centres


Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and drafting form an important part of the Department’s teaching programmes. The facilities in our Design and Development Centres include the latest Pentium computers and various plotting and printing facilities linked by a LAN. Peripherals include scanners, digitisers, large plotters and various printing facilities. It also provides computing facilities for our BSE students.


Electrical Services Laboratory


Facilities in the electrical services lab are suitable for testing and commissioning electrical installations, testing electrical equipment, conducting power quality analyses (harmonics, transients, etc.) and electro-magnetic field measurements and lightning detecting and monitoring systems, among others.


Fire Engineering Laboratory


There are two fire chambers that are well-equipped with instruments such as thermocouples, velocity sensors, oxygen analysers and gas analysers for conducting measurements in full-scale burning tests. Fire protection systems are installed for studying system performance. Wind tunnels are available for evaluating the thermal sensitivities of sprinkler heads and fire detectors.


HVACR Laboratory


Air conditioning systems provide comfortable interior thermal environments for building occupants. The process involves the removal of heat and humidity by different types of air handling equipment. Fans are used to distribute the conditioned air to various interior zones of a building through air ducts. In the HVAC lab, students can study the operating characteristics of fans and the air-flow disturbance along an air duct using the Fan Test Rig and the Air Duct and Damper Test Rig. Other experimental equipment includes a Refrigeration Laboratory Unit, a Bench Top Cooling Tower and an Air Conditioning Laboratory Unit.


Indoor Air Quality and Thermal Comfort Laboratory


Most of the test rigs in this lab are portable, comprising various gas analysers, temperature, humidity and air flow sensors for measurements in occupied spaces, on air-side systems, etc. The manikin is an important piece of equipment for investigating thermal comfort and indoor air quality. Integrated analysis of the data in different areas such as thermal comfort, indoor air quality and subjective human responses can be carried out.


Indoor Air Quality (Bioaerosal) Laboratory


The BSE Bioaerosols Laboratory at Biological Safety Level 2 (BSL-2) is equipped with a Class II biological safety cabinet, as stated in the “Guidelines on Biosafety in the Clinical Laboratory” issued by the Department of Health (2005). Scientists and technicians have expertise in a wide variety of technical areas, including:


  • Bacterial growth analysis and experimental synthesis
  • Quantification and identification
  • Biofilms and bioaerosols
  • Controlled biological systems
  • Field and environmental sampling/collection
  • Influence of ventilation on airborne microorganism dispersal and deposition
  • Evaluation of air disinfection devices


The lab is also equipped with a wide range of bioaerosol sampling facilities for laboratory and field studies, including single stage impactors, Anderson samplers, biotest RCS plus, an incubator and an autoclave.


​Intelligent Building Laboratory


The Intelligent Building (IB) Laboratory facilities include a comprehensive Honeywell IB system, a full set of Schneider automation systems, a variety of measurement instruments for building energy auditing and high-performance computers. The Honeywell and Schneider systems are fully integrated systems, and support different open system communication standards such as BACnet, LonWork and Modbus. The IB lab provides test facilities for teaching and learning as well as for R&D on intelligent building technologies, the development of advanced building system control, energy management, diagnosis strategies and communication software.


Lighting Laboratory


The Lighting Lab’s goniophotometer, integrating sphere and spectroradiometer help to characterise various photometric (e.g., luminous flux, luminous intensity distribution) and colourimetric (e.g., spectral power distribution, correlated colour temperature, chromaticity coordinates, CIE Colour Rendering Index, IES TM-30-15, etc.) quantities for light sources and luminaires. The High Dynamic Range Imaging System allows us to perform luminance and glare analyses for exterior and interior luminous environmental assessments. In addition, the 14-channel spectrally tunable LED lighting system, spectroradiometer, spectrophotometer and standard viewing booth allow us to simulate different lighting conditions and to perform colour characterisation using different materials and surface colours.


Lightning Physics and Protection Laboratory


This lab facilitates research on the formation, detection of and protection from lightning. It includes various instruments specially designed for lightning research, such as slow and fast antennae and a magnetic loop antenna for measuring lightning-caused electric fields, a lightning location system, high-speed camera, broadband interferometer system and lightning current measuring system. It also includes various instruments for general use, such as high-speed oscilloscopes and data recorders. Due to the nature of lightning, these instruments are usually installed in fields outside the lab for experiments during the summer. The lab also has various sets of software for modelling lightning processes.


Low-carbon Building Technology Laboratory


The Low-carbon Building Technology Laboratory consists of a stainless-steel cladded environmental chamber the size of a typical office, and a stand-alone air-conditioning system equipped with three thermal manikins and temperature, aerosol and VOC sensors. The lab accommodates a variety of experimental studies.


Multi-Function Chamber Laboratory


The Multi-Function Chamber Laboratory is equipped with a main heating and cooling plant comprising a chiller, a boiler, hot and chilled water pumps, an air handling plant and a main supervisory control and data acquisition centre. The temperature, relative humidity and air-flow within the chamber can be precisely controlled over a wide range of set-point conditions for various precision measurements.


Piped Services Laboratory


This lab provides facilities for testing and commissioning water supply and drainage systems for buildings. Bench-scale test rigs are set up to assess the performance and efficiency of various system components.


Renewable Energy Laboratory


Established in August 2014, the lab enables fundamental and applied research on solar energy materials and green building materials in collaboration with industry and leading academic institutions, providing advanced and innovative technological solutions for the generation of renewable energy and a sustainable built environment.


Solar Simulation Laboratory


The lab provides facilities for testing solar energy devices for thermal and photovoltaic applications. The solar simulator is mainly used for the research and development of solar energy applications in buildings, product tests of solar energy equipment and heat loss measurements of various building façade elements and devices.

Other Information

Supporting Documents

Supporting Documents

Research Proposal

Compulsory - A standard form must be used for the submission of research proposal.  Please click here to download the form.

Transcript / Certificate