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Nagelbush Mechanical Inc.


The mostly privately funded University of Miami Life Science and Technology Park is being developed by Wexford Miami LLC, a subsidiary of Wexford Science and Technology LLC, in partnership with the University of Miami (UM). It is situated in Miami’s health district and adjacent to the University of Miami’s Leonard M. Miller School of  Medicine.

The 8.8-acre site’s first structure – the life science building – was topped off in September 2010. Started in late 2009, the seven-story, 179,000-square-foot structure is scheduled for completion in February 2011. It will contain wet and dry labs, offices, lab-ready de­v­elopment suites and retail space. The goal of the technology park is to help research and pro­duct development teams innovate and com­­m­ercialize technology for public use and benefit.

Nagelbush Mechanical Inc. of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. – a subsidiary of GreenStar Services Corp., Mt. Vernon, N.Y. – is installing the plumbing system in the life science building and the plumbing and HVAC systems in the development suites. UM wants the building to qualify for LEED Gold.

“We work with the entire team and make sure that the customer/end-user’s vision is recognized through our efforts,” COO Glen Elkes explains. “Two important things to Nagelbush are making sure that we keep it within budget and produce a facility to the end user’s specifications. During the development stage of a project, we can maintain budgets by virtue of material, manufacturer selections or even a complete system change, while ensuring whatever the client intended happens, all, of course, subject to the designer’s approval. That’s the most important thing – it doesn’t do any good to build a building that doesn’t work for the initial usage.”

Underground Tanks

Nagelbush Mechanical is working with the general contractor Whiting-Turner Contracting Co., Baltimore, on the project. “It’s a very harmonious relationship out there for everybody,” Elkes re­ports.  “We’re excited to work with them – they’re great contractors.”

Nagelbush has assigned six subcontractors on the project. “We have insulators, fire safety, piping contractors, an excavation contractor, a sheet metal contractor and a control contractor,” Pro­ject Manager Keith Mendel lists.

The master plan for the research park is to con­struct five life science research and development buildings containing from 1.6 million to 2 million square feet of space. The life science building is a concrete structure with a curtainwall, masonry and stucco exterior. Nagelbush Mechanical is engaged in several of the facility’s energy-saving features. One of the features that Nagelbush participated in is the underground tanks for the reclaimed stormwater harvesting system.

“The stormwater and the air conditioning condensate are collected in large tanks underground,” Elkes explains. “When this water is needed, it is filtered and pumped up for flushing of toilets and urinals. This system also provides the makeup of water in the air conditioning system’s coolant tower.  The building has two complete water systems.  The use of this harvested rain water reduces their potable water usage tremendously.” 

Mendel found installation of the underground tanks to be one of the project’s biggest challenges. “With the water table and all the restrictions, it’s a pretty complicated thing to accomplish,” he insists. “Strict guidelines from the University of Miami and the manufacturer itself impacted final placement, tie-down and compaction materials. The elevation was a real challenge – especially when you’re talking about three 15,000-gallon fiberglass tanks 47 feet long by 8 feet in diameter – to place them exactly where they’re needed with the proper elevations while beneath the water table.”

To place the rock and gravel required to surround the three tanks, Nagelbush Mechanical had to excavate approximately 15 feet below grade, which is below the water table. Besides the water reclamation tanks, another energy-efficient feature of the plumbing system is its use of low-flow fixtures. Other LEED items Nagelbush is responsible for are chilled beams for air conditioning the building, an air quality control program and separate recycling bins for unused construction materials.

Bathrooms Prefabricated

Nagelbush Mechanical deploys 3-D BIM modeling on its projects. “Our CAD department does the drawings, and we review the completed drawings to determine which sections of the project are candidates for potential prefab opportunities,” Elkes notes. “We’ll draw it and look at a 3-D view of the building in a virtual world and pick out parts we can prefab in our prefab shop. This also allows us to visualize conflicts with other trades, which ensures us that we will only have to install our systems once.”

For the life science building, Nagelbush prefabricated the bathrooms. “Then, when the project is ready for those components, we truck them to the building site and install them in hours instead of days or even weeks,” he adds. “We’re finding prefabrication to be very cost-effective in this ever increasingly hard-to-compete-in mar­ket.”

Mainly Florida

Nagelbush is celebrating its 45th anniversary in 2010. When founder Jerome Nagelbush sold the company eight years ago to GreenStar Ser­vices Corp., HVAC, electrical construction and general specialty contracting were added to Nagelbush’s offerings. GreenStar specializes in infrastructure and complex commercial installations. “Stephen Kornfeld, our CEO, has expanded Nagelbush to new horizons and continues to challenge everyone to excel,” Elkes says.

The company will work on projects anywhere for established customers, but its core territory is Florida, whose construction market has slowed significantly. Nagelbush is poised to move around the country with its clients. “Two years ago, the economy here in South Florida was mostly condos, and now there are tens of thousands of unsold units,” he notes. “There’s not going to be any need for housing for a long time.” Consequently, an entire market segment has disappeared.

“Not just in our area but in other parts of the country, we’re finding ourselves pursuing a lot of government work, where that wasn’t the case a few years ago,” Elkes reports. “Hos­pitals seem to be the biggest calling card; with the need for specialized workers, we can separate ourselves from the pack.

“One of the things we’re working on is specialized labs,” he adds. “A couple of them are in-house now. We’re pursuing specialized projects that have a lot of complexity; the tougher the project, the more we like it.”

For the future, Elkes sees Nagelbush Mechanical expanding possibly to Texas or other south­ern states and winning jobs in plumbing, HVAC and electrical work. “Depending on client needs, I see us doing all three trades very actively,” Elkes forecasts. “I see us in all market segments – com­­mercial, retail, industrial, hospital.”

He emphasizes the importance of the company’s employees. “I think one of the things we do is strive to hire the best employees that we can and retain them,” he stresses. “Our people are our most valuable asset. Our goals are very simple: We provide good service at a competitive price. We believe our work product and our corporate culture is why our customers continue to come back to us for repeat work. The most important thing to us is that we have customer satisfaction.”

Research Center

UM has a community that consists of more than 10,400 undergraduate students, 4,900 graduates students, and more than 3,000 fac­ulty members. More than 1,500 research projects currently are being conducted at the Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. Its campus in­cludes app­roximately 68 acres of owned and leased land in the 153-acre University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center complex. This area, called the Miami Health District, is where 1,781 research institutions and 1,991 testing laboratories are located.

This is the location of the UM Life Science and Technology Park.

The goal is to make the UM Life Science and Technology Park a vibrant research community where people work and relax.

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