River Trails Middle School


River Trails Middle School, located in Mt. Prospect, Illinois, faced inconsistent comfort levels and constant work maintenance orders. With outdated controls, building occupants and maintenance personnel did not have as much control over the HVAC systems as they would have liked. The district implemented an upgrade of the HVAC controls and retro-commissioned the building systems. At its conclusion, the project resulted in a 27 percent annual energy savings and an $18,900 annual cost savings.


River Trails School District includes three school buildings, serving 1,500 students from Pre-K to 8th grade. The project at the middle school was implemented simultaneously at the two elementary schools to maximize efficiency and savings. The district portfolio also includes an administrative center and warehouse, although these facilities were not included in this project.



The controls systems in the district buildings were outdated, and did not allow schools to optimize the HVAC systems or utilize complex algorithms, such as optimal start/stop, demand control ventilation, or outdoor air reset. As a first step, all mechanical equipment was entered into one central web-based controls system. The second step was to retro-commission each piece to ensure it was working at the optimum performance.


The following energy management improvements were implemented at River Trails Middle School:

  • Energy management improvements, retro-commissioning, and HVAC hydronic performance: The retro-commissioning process reviewed all the schedules and equipment operation via the energy management system, and identified areas of inefficiency. This process calibrated the building and ensured it was running at optimum efficiency. Strategic alarms were created to notify district officials if any of the optimized or re-calibrated systems waiver.

As a part of the building systems analysis, utility metering data, utility rates, infrastructure, and the building automation system were also evaluated for savings opportunities. By reviewing electrical metering interval data (energy usage data recorded every 30 minutes) and comparing it to sequences in building systems, energy conservation measures and behavioral strategies were identified that could generate future savings.

  • Utility demand management: The district worked with their local utility to reduce consumption during peak times to decrease system demands and maximize district rebates for reduced demands which encouraged further staff and community education towards efficiency goals.


The district expects to realize a savings in maintenance costs associated with the upkeep of the buildings’ HVAC systems. Prior to the upgrade, the maintenance department spent approximately 29 percent of their time attending to HVAC-related work orders district-wide. The impact of this project has dropped that demand by 7 percent and an additional 3-5 percent reduction is expected.


All three buildings in the River Trails portfolio earned ENERGY STAR® certification and the middle school received the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon School Award in 2015. 

River Trails Middle School Factsheet


Annual Energy Use

(Source EUI)
Baseline (2014)
138 kBtu/sq.ft.
Actual (2018)
101 kBtu/sq.ft.

Energy Savings:


Annual Energy Cost

Baseline (2014)
Actual (2018)

Cost Savings:


Sector Type



Mt. Prospect, Illinois

Project Size

109,000 Sq. Ft.

Financial Overview


River Trails Middle School
River Trails Middle School