Rising sea levels, dramatic weather changes and smoggy air have the world wondering what is wrong with the environment. Hong Kong, one of the more polluted cities in the world, is no exception. Seeing a need for professionals who specialise in developing the city in a green way, Hong Kong Polytechnic University's faculty of construction and land use introduced the master of science in sustainable urban development, which is the first of its kind in Hong Kong.
Professor Yang Hongxing, leader of the programme, sees a huge demand for talent in the sustainable development sector as it has become a major concern around the world.
Urbanisation has continued at an extremely quick pace in both Hong Kong and the mainland with construction of roads, railways and erection of skyscrapers. These activities have led to polluted air, traffic congestion and exhaustion of natural resources.
"It is time for us to think about the impact of development on environment and society. We should broaden our horizons and not care only about economic benefits. This is where our graduates come in. Environmental protection is a global issue, every country, region and industry has to play a part," Yang said.
The programme is designed to cut across different professions including surveying, engineering and environmental sciences.
The course leads students to think about the relationship between town planning and sustainable development.
Courses on "Energy Efficient Building" and "Engineering Intelligent Building" educate students to make use of different materials to build green buildings that consume less energy.
Another important aspect of the course is teaching students to assess the environmental impact that the building brings to the surroundings. One of the highlights of the course is the "Urban Remote Sensing" class. Students are taught to use satellite pictures and surveying methods to analyse the landscape of a city and its population density. It is an efficient way to assess the effect on people when a building is demolished or erected.
There are courses on how to make use of renewable energy to increase the energy efficiency of building such as "Alternative Energy Technologies" and "Electrical Energy-saving Systems".
Getting professional recognition and enhancing knowledge are two of the main reasons students choose to take the course.
The programme has been accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and graduates will automatically become members of the RICS real estate management profession.
Most of the students are working in construction, real estate management, architecture, building services and environment related industries. They aim to upgrade their knowledge by studying this course.
"There are also students who have just graduated from university, since they are attracted by the prospects for the industry," said Yang.
Job prospects for graduates are excellent, according to Yang, as there is demand for such professionals, not only locally but also from the mainland.
"The Pearl River Delta is also facing similar problems and there are plenty of opportunities for our graduates."
Yang said the course was looking forward to attracting more students from the mainland. Among the first batch of 37 students, four are from the mainland. "There is certainly a growing demand for mainland students. We had sent out prospectus to universities in major mainland cities and conducted seminars at high schools." said Yang.
The entrance requirement for the course is a bachelor's degree with honours in construction, real estate, urban planning, architecture or environmental science. Students can study either one-year full-time or a 2½ year part-time programme.
Keep it clean
The programme is designed to cut across different sectors, including management, surveying, engineering and environmental sciences
Students will get an in-depth look into the relationship between town planning and sustainable development and learn to assess the impact buildings bring to the environment
There is strong focus on environmental protection and energy conservation. Students are taught to build green buildings that consume less energy
The programme has been accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Graduates can become members of RICS real estate management profession automatically
Applicants should have a bachelor's degree with honours in construction, real estate, urban planning, architecture or environmental science
More than five years of related working experience considered