NORTH ADAMS -- The Housing Authority plans to start a "multi-faceted" investigation into heating in some Ashland and Spring street high-rise units.
The initiative springs from a report -- compiled by an independent engineering company, Hesnor Engineering Co., of Adams -- which showed three of 11 units monitored by the company late last month registered temperatures below the prescribed levels of 72 degrees during the day and 68 degrees at night.
The lowest of these was 63, the other two were 66.
"I would suggest our approach be comprehensive," James Canavan, Housing Authority board chair said at a meeting Thursday. "We're guessing it's the envelope [of the building that's responsible], mostly."
Executive Director Jennifer Hohn added "We're going to make every effort possible to ensure that the buildings can carry the load of the 72 and 68 [degree temperatures] that we've promised the tenants their apartments can be at."
Hesnor was employed by the Housing Authority after many complaints of cold from residents.
The controls on heat were placed in the building as part of $3.2 million in upgrades undertaken in 2011 with the support of a U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) loan. They've resulted in $137,000 in energy savings for the authority thus far.
Hohn said the authority will hold companies that performed the 2011 upgrades responsible for costs associated with any fixes. They are CTI, engineers Penney Consulting Services, P.C., and installing contractor Climate Heating and Cooling. The latter company has already initiated "preliminary corrective actions," Hesnor's report said.
In the meanwhile, Hohn advised tenants to stop using floor heaters -- these throw off the system and can artificially lower temperatures. Adjustments to the boilers have been made to allow some extra heat for "frail elderly," according to Hohn.
In other business at Thursday's meeting, the board touted recent reports from HUD reflecting a nine-point leap over last year in its Public Housing Assessment System score.
The current mark of 88 puts the authority just two points below "high performer" status with HUD. The score is an aggregate related to an authority's occupancy, management, finances and physical condition.
Hohn also reported Thursday that all of the authority's 306 units are currently booked. It plans to soon reopen the Section 8 waiting list to new applicants.
"I talked to the staff and nobody can remember a time in the history of this agency that we have been fully occupied," Hohn said. "If our occupancy remains at this level then, we'll be a high performer next year."
To reach Phil Demers, email