5 Keys to Sustainable Design

With a few green-minded design tweaks, you could build a home or office that saves energy and money.

Sustainable Design - The Brook Hill Residence

Sustainable Design – The Brook Hill Residence

Earth Day is a great reminder about the importance of taking care of our planet. As our towns and communities continue to grow, they can have damaging effects on Earth and therefore on our future as its inhabitants. The building and design of new businesses andhomes cuts into our supply of natural resources, so as an architecture firm, it’s especially important to us to work on countering this by focusing on sustainable, green design.


Green Building helps to increase the efficiency of the projects we work on. It helps our project sites to save energy, electricity and water, among other things. Those who own sustainably-focused buildings can not only feel good about doing their part to help the environment, they can also enjoy lower electricity,   water and energy bills.


One of our biggest accomplishments in sustainable design was celebrated last year, when we built the county’s first U.S. Green Building Council LEED-certified home: Brook Hill Residence. The 2,800 square foot private residence is owned by SAA President Mark Shermeyer, and incorporates much of the environmentally-friendly design that he (and the rest of our team) are so very passionate about.

You may think that owning a more sustainable home or office is out of your reach. Maybe you know that you want to work toward this goal but you have no idea how to start. There are simple steps that you can take when designing a home or office that may seem little, but that can make a huge difference:

  1. Conserve Water – You can conserve water in a number of ways: install low-flow faucets and showerheads, collect and reuse rain water or build rock trails to help better channel the water’s flow.


  1. Welcome Natural Light – When building, careful consideration of windows, window placement, sky lights, and even the direction that the building will face can make a drastic difference in the amount of electricity you will use. Where you do install lighting, use LED lights, which are more energy efficient than traditional ones.


  1. Start from the Ground Up – Consider using cork flooring rather than traditional wood. Cork is considered a renewable source.


  1. Find your Green Thumb – Seek out space to create a garden and/or compost area in the yard of your home or business. Growing your own produce and herbs or working to make less waste by composting trash can make an incredible difference.


  1. Stick with Solar – Look into solar paneling for your roof. You may be surprised at how much money you can end up saving by putting some extra money out up-front.

When you truly think about it, Earth Day should be an every day thing. Since we only have one planet, if we can do things in a more environmentally-friendly way, then we should. It’s our collective responsibility. We pride ourselves on trying to focus on the green aspects of our industry and would love to help you plan your next sustainably-designed project. Reach out anytime!

York County Private Residence

Construction is just wrapping on this gorgeous York County residential home project, which has many incredible features. While we love commercial architecture, it’s always amazing to work with clients and help them redesign their dream homes.

  1. This particular home was an A frame from the 1980’s, and it certainly got a facelift!
    York County residential home - interior photos

    York County residential home – interior photos

With a focus on natural design, the home has many elements that help showcase the natural beauty of wood and stone. Large windows allow for a tremendous amount of natural light, and one-of-a-kind features make the home unique to its owners.

Project Highlights:

  • 1050 GSF addition for spacious master bedroom suite, loft, living room and storage
  • Complete renovation of exterior finishes, from siding and roofing to cleaning and eprinting stones
  • Complete renovation/reconfiguration of 2 bathrooms
  • Custom built-ins
  • Private Enclosure of exterior patio

Project Highlight: Riverview Residence

The Riverview Residence is an 8,000 SF custom-designed home located in a beautiful meadow that overlooks the Susquehanna River. The home’s position and configuration were all developed to maximize the gorgeous site views from any and all areas of the house.

Special features include many custom offerings: lofts above the children’s bedrooms offering a quiet escape, a custom beverage bar near the great room, specially-designed stair railings spanning both sides of the double staircase, a covered porch and outdoor kitchen which boasts a pizza oven beside a swimming pool and fire pit.

Throughout the home, large expanses of windows allow bright natural light and beautiful views throughout the year from all directions and all rooms.

The Riverview Residence

The Riverview Residence


SAA’s Brook Hill Residence Obtains LEED Certification

It was a true honor for our Brook Hill Residence project to be officially LEED certified by the U.S. Green Building Council this past Wednesday.

Since first opening our doors, we have been focused on being green-minded architects, and our Brook Hill home was just recognized in a plaque ceremony for this very purpose.

The home is the very first in York County to be fully green and LEED certified. Its orientation encourages passive solar gain through major glass areas. Each feature both inside and outside of the building (from the color the walls have been painted to the landscape outside) is fully green. We are truly proud of this accomplishment.

The home’s green features include:
  • EnergyStar Certified appliances
  • Radon Resistant construction
  • HERS Rating: 56
  • Full LED lighting
  • Sealed natural gas fireplace
  • High efficiency plumbing fixtures
  • Hot water recirculation system
  • Environmentally preferred products
  • Low VOC paints and finishes
  • Geothermal heating and cooling
  • ERV system (for constant air exchange)
  • Maximum use of natural light
  • High LRV interior wall and ceiling colors
During Wednesday’s ceremony, we were awarded a plaque by Heidi Kunka, the Executive Director from the Central PA USGBC. We were also joined by York County Commissioner Chris Reilly who generously spoke during the ceremony, and by many close friends, valued clients and locals.

A Peek Into Our Process: Inspiration for Industrial Arts & Crafts Style and a Modern Palladian Villa

Project Architect Gretchen Weaver has some exciting work on her plate right now. She is developing a design for an Industrial Arts & Crafts style residence, as well as remodeling a Modern Palladian Villa.

Recently, a client approached us requesting an arts & crafts-style home, and asked that the design include polished concrete floors and influences from vintage boats. The first thing Gretchen did after receiving their request was to pull iconic imagery for inspiration. (This is often part of our process.) Her inspirational photos included imagery of Frank Lloyd Wright, Gustav Stickley, and Greene & Greene projects, and each selected photo did a wonderful job of showcasing the extensive woodworking details involved in typical classic style. Additionally, she looked for inspirational images that helped blend the line between traditional and modern industrial style.

Other current clients have requested a Modern Palladian Villa renovation to their home. They have expressed distress as their children are sleeping on opposite sides of the living room, and do not enjoy being separated. The family is looking to open their home up more, and create a modern and comfortable living space. At this time, the facade of their home is made up entirely of bricks and is quite formal, with beautiful Palladian-style windows. For the interior of their home, the family envisions a space that is clean, white, and modern with texture and comfort. Again pulling from photographs, Gretchen has worked to gather inspiration and ideas for the next step of the process.

Listening to clients’ desires and then pulling from various sources of inspiration to make their dreams become a reality is a fun and exciting part of this job. We enjoy being a part of the process as these projects take shape, and then seeing our ideas incorporated into a stunning finished project. Follow our journey with these new projects, and check back for further developments and updates!



Brook Hill Residence – Interior

The eco-friendly and one-of-a-kind interior of SAAarchitects’ Brook Hill Residence in York County was designed using state-of-the-art green building techniques. The residence features a spacious single floor, open-plan living layout to eliminate the formality of unused rooms. The cork flooring throughout the interior is a sustainable and recyclable material. Geothermal heating and cooling maximizes energy efficiency with natural gas for supplemental radiant floor heating, creating additional comfort in the winter for the homeowners. A house-wide ERV system provides constant air exchange, pre-cooling warm air, and pre-heating cold air to provide ventilation and humidity control that eliminates the need for traditional items such as bathroom fans. Natural light and light infiltration is incorporated throughout the home through the use of suntunnels, skylights, and etched glass doors. At night, the light fixtures in the suntunnels provide energy efficient LED light. Speaking of LED lighting, absolutely no incandescent lighting is present in the home — only LED lighting. As a whole, this innovative home aids the homeowners to live an environmentally conscious and sustainable life.

Additionally, the Brook Hill Residence is in the final stages of documentation to become a LEED for Home Certified Home, and will be the only LEED certified residence in York County!

Brook Circle House 0017 Brook Circle House 0027 Brook Circle House 0033 Brook Circle House 0034

Linden Lofts: Phase 2 Update

Linden Lofts II 0019 Linden Lofts II 0010SAAarchitects has now completed phase 2 of their Linden Lofts Project, and phase 3 is currently under construction. The lofts, located in York, feature 49 complete units now that phase 2 has wrapped, and will offer 73 units total between 3 buildings when the project is fully finished.

The apartments feature some beautiful and unique architectural design, as well as a long history, dating back to 1802 when York Wagon & Gear Co. built their wooden coaches for horse-drawn carriages out of the facilities.

A few of the units feature twin wall safes, another piece of the past left behind from the building’s former days, when it was York Safe & Lock Company. Luckily for residents, instead of ripping out the wall safes years ago,  96 South George Street LLP. decided to incorporate them with the York Casket Company holdovers into the design of the apartments, preserving some town history while mixing in other modern features.

Even units that don’t boast wall safes have beautiful historical elements, from hardwood floors to exposed beams and brick walls. Several of them have large industrial skylights as well, which add to their unique charm and draw. Apartments range in size from 813-1,884 square feet.

February 14, 2014

A Fresh Start Meets Innovative Design

To help establish their roots, a family that is relocating to the Hershey, PA area has partnered with SAAarchitects to design a custom residence that will help tell the story of their transplant to the new community. The concept plan incorporates the owner’s preferred style of minimalist industrial and is visually based on an agricultural plow– the idea stemming from the family’s experience in planting the seed for a new life in a new environment. The new build’s site is on a substantial area of farmland where its industrial design will provide nice visual contrast, like a piece of equipment plowing among the topography of the site’s natural farmlands (of which the family intends to continue farming).

Some materials for the 5,200 square foot build are to be precast concrete walls, sealed concrete floor with in-floor radiant heat, aluminum storefront windows, solid wood doors and cabinets with concrete countertops, exposed Parallam beams and steel frames which will collectively provide a raw, natural appearance. Additional features of the build include a three-car garage, main level living plus partial walk-out basement level with a pool and patio, and loft spaces in the great room and each of the children’s bedrooms. Check back to see how this new build blossoms!

December 31, 2013

Rustic, Cabin Style Home Completed In Time for the Holidays

SAAarchitects partnered with builder John M. Dotzel Builder, Inc. to bring this 5,600 sq. ft. rustic, cabin style home to life. This space features custom cabinetry and soapstone countertops by Olde York Homes to enhance the home’s unique, natural appearance. SAAarchitects was able to collaborate with the homeowner’s masonry business by incorporating custom masonry details, including a “heart” at the top of the hearth and other distinguishing elements throughout the home.





February 27, 2013

SAA Works on New Green Design

SAA is working on a preliminary site analysis for a custom residence focusing on green and sustainable design practices. EveryDay Green had been engaged as the LEED for Homes provider.

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