I am truly grateful to my research supervisor, Dr. Joseph C. Lam, for his invaluable guidance and support throughout this research. Special thanks go to my associate supervisor and Head of Department, Professor Alan P. Jeary, for establishing a stimulating research environment in the Department of Building and Construction, City University of Hong Kong (CityU).
Many thanks are due to Mr. C. K. Lai for his technical support and to Mr. Danny H. W. Li, Mr. Apple L. S. Chan and Professor Xiu-feng Gao for the friendly atmosphere at the research office. I appreciate the friendship of many kind and interesting people at CityU, in particular, Mr. Richard K. K. Yuen, Mr. Joseph C. K. Wong, Mr. Kepler S. Y. Yuen, Mr. Thomas K. L. Tong and many others. Sincere thanks are expressed to Mr. T. T. Lo for his encouragement during my part-time study and to Mr. S. K. Wang for opening my eyes for air-conditioning. The Royal Observatory Hong Kong is acknowledged for the supply of Hong Kong weather data. I am also indebted to a lot of overseas researchers and institutions that have provided useful information for my research study.
I wish to dedicate this thesis to my parents who provide me a building for shelter, energy for recovery from poor health, and encouragement to strive for good performance.