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!

Junior Achievement Young Women’s Symposium

The Future is Female

This week, SAA VP Danika Dallam spent the day at the Junior Achievement of South Central PA’s Young Women’s Symposium! She served as a table facilitator along with Katie Clark of Chick-fil-A East York, where they won best design for the “What does an Empowered Woman look like” challenge. 

Danika had a wonderful time listening to Emcee Sarah Small of Local 21 CBS News, WHP Harrisburg and talking with High School students about careers in Architecture & Design. 

Junior Achievement Young Women’s Symposium

Junior Achievement Young Women’s Symposium

August 20, 2017

Focus on Architecture: Newport, Rhode Island

The Breakers

The Breakers – Newport, RI

As summer comes to a close, we’re reflecting on a very architecture-focused trip we took to Newport, Rhode Island. This gorgeous town features the summer homes of society’s elite of the industrial revolution, such as several Venderbilt family residences.

The Breakers is considered the grandest of all of the Vanderbilt “cottages” and its grandeur was certainly not lost on us!
The buildings were stunning and well worth the trip! Visit the Preservation Society of Newport County to see additional photos or schedule a tour. What architecture have you marveled at during your travels? 

June 16, 2017

Meet our summer interns!

At SAA, we enjoy not only practicing what we know, but passing that knowledge on to others as well. This summer, we are working with two architectural interns: Jordan Swartz and Peter Gauthier.
Jordan attends Penn State University and will be completing her Bachelor of Architecture there this December. She is currently on hiatus with SAA while she participates in an intensive, 6-week study abroad program in Japan and South Korea. We wish her the best of luck with this adventure and look forward to hearing all about it upon her return.
Peter currently holds a Bachelor of Science and Sustainable Design from Pennsylvania College of Technology. He is additionally pursuing his Master of Architecture at the University of Oregon this fall, and we have no doubt that he will do an incredible job with this endeavor.
We thank Jordan and Peter for spending time learning with us each day, and look forward to a fun summer with them.


May 18, 2017

Meet the SAA Rescue Pets

SAA President Mark Shermeyer and Vice President Danika Dallam aren’t just passionate about architecture, as it turns out, they’ve also both been parents of rescue pets. Over the years, they’ve each adopted dogs from PA Caring for K-9s (PACK9) and Animal Rescue Inc. PA Caring for K-9s is an organization that rescues dogs from high kill shelters in the south and brings them to PA to find loving, forever homes. Every other weekend, PACK9 brings about 30 dogs to PA in hopes of getting them adopted. If you’re interested in rescuing your next pet, these are great places to begin your search!

Danika’s family adopted their Australian Shepherd mix Cayenne in April of 2015. She is now 2 years old. The playful pup earned her name because of her red fur coloring and spicy personality. In addition, they adopted Ava just a few weeks ago in April. She is a 16-week old German Shepherd/Border Collie mix and one of Cayenne’s best buddies. Ava earned her name after several family name votes that resulted in no mutual agreements. Although “Ava” wasn’t anyone’s first choice, it was one that everyone liked, and it has quickly become the perfect fit.

Mark recently adopted his lab mix named Gavin through Animal Rescue Incorporated. Gavin is originally from Puerto Rico and was named at the shelter. All the dogs have very sweet personalities and have been perfect family additions for both Mark and Danika.

Visit PA Caring for K-9’s website or Facebook page to browse through some wonderful pictures of dogs who are currently awaiting adoption, or visit animalrescueinc.org to do the same. Mark and Danika have become firm believers in the value that the #adoptdontshop philosophy can bring to a home!

SAA Rescue Pets

SAA Rescue Pets

FullSizeRender (7)

Self Storage Trio Dubbed ‘Dream Team’

York-based companies SAAarchitects, Storage Construction, and Storage Asset Management have all worked within the self storage industry along the Eastern Seaboard. The trio continues to team together on some impressive projects, and has thus gotten to know each others’ methods and industry approaches thoroughly. Over the last 15 years, their collaborative accomplishments have birthed an industry team that is able to provide greater benefits to clients than ever before, earning them the title of “Self Storage Dream Team” as dubbed by several current clients.

SAAarchitects is an award-winning architectural firm led by President Mark D. Shermeyer AIA, LEED ® GA and Vice President Danika R. S. Dallam NCARB LEED ® GA. After celebrating a 20-year anniversary milestone this year, the firm has continued to provide complete planning and design services to clientele across Pennsylvania and along the eastern seaboard states, reaching as far south as Florida and as far north as Massachusetts. The company’s portfolio is diverse, and includes 3.1 million square-feet (SF) of self-storage industry projects and over 75 storage facilities. Some of these projects include development of a prototype and signature look for multi-facility developers, conversions of historic structures to self storage that have received preservation awards, and creative solutions of challenging sites or existing structures to maximize net rentable space. All of these projects are approached with a fresh perspective to focus on exceeding clients’ expectations and desired end results.

Storage Asset Management (SAM) is a self-storage focused Third Party Management company owned by Jay Hoke and Alyssa Quill. SAM is also located in York, PA. The company boasts over 50 years of industry experience and over 160 employees at their store, regional, and corporate levels. Together they manage over 75 properties that encompass more than 3.4 million SF of self storage. They work to serve self storage owners throughout the U.S who are looking for additional management assistance, and also assist owners with marketing, revenue management, training, financial reporting, and property management.

Storage Construction is another neighboring York, PA company led by Scott Forry and Rod Lockhard. They provide both general contractor and construction management services primarily for the Mid-Atlantic region exclusively for the self-storage industry. Their team has constructed over 50 self storage facilities in excess of 2 million square feet. Having also owned, managed and operated their own 50-plus facilities over the past 17 years, they are industry experts.

When their services combine, these companies offer an incredible amount of collaborative knowledge to provide a seamless process from start to finish–even for the experienced owner. The team can assist any client from the initial feasibility analysis and design phase through permit approval and construction, followed by ongoing facility marketing and management. There is no doubt that with their combined efforts this “Dream Team” will continue to accomplish great things in the industry, and leave happy clients in their wake.

Dream Team

Dream Team

April 20, 2017

Happy National Get to Know Your Customer’s Day!

It’s National Get to Know Your Customer’s Day, and we thought that we would take the opportunity to talk a little bit about ours!
Since opening 20 years ago, we have averaged about 100 new customers each year. We enjoy meeting new people from all around the area. Although our main reach began in Central PA, we have now expanded to service customers in FL, SC, NC, WV, VA, DE, NJ, MD, NY and beyond. Servicing a variety of customers from a variety of areas has helped us to have our hands on a very diverse group of projects spanning both private sector commercial to residential and even local and state government.

One of our very favorite customer testimonials came from the recently retired CEO of the Keystone Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc., John R. Zimmer. In a letter that means quite a bit to us, he wrote, “…we found the SAA team to not only be creative and innovative but also very responsive to problems and challenges that came up…” and “Working with SAAarchitects has been extremely positive and we are proud they are part of ABC.” We love making our customers proud, and attribute much our our firm’s success to those we service. Our customers have made us who we are today, and we are very grateful to each and every one of them!

ABC ribbon cutting

ABC ribbon cutting ceremony

Making the Best of Misfortunes

Recently, those of us at SAAarchitects learned very well how to make the best of an unfortunate situation. On January 1st of this year, a fire started in our office building, on the floor just above us. The fire caused the building’s automatic sprinkler system to turn on, which in turn caused water damage to approximately 1/3-1/2 of our office area. Although we were disappointed in the extent of the water damage, we couldn’t possibly imagine the level of damage that may have occurred if these sprinkler systems were not in place and working properly.

Because our existing flooring is discontinued, the water damage suffered meant that we had to replace our entire office floor. Additionally, we had to repaint and reconstruct our custom built-in desks and cabinetry, and replace both office equipment and furniture. During this time, we were grateful to be able to keep the office open and fully functioning with all usual staff.

While we don’t wish this type of experience on anyone, it gave us an opportunity to use a bit of our expertise on planning renovations for our own building, and it certainly reminded our staff of how fortunate we truly are.

Fire Photos


Fire Misfortunes


Turn Your Clocks, Check Your Smoke Detector Batteries

This weekend, don’t forget to turn your clocks ahead and test the batteries on your smoke alarms, CO2 detectors, and flash lights. Connecting these two tasks in your mind will help you to remember to check the batteries in the important devices in your home at least once yearly. If you need to put new batteries into your smoke or CO2 alarms, be sure to test them after the replacement. Use high-quality batteries to ensure a longer shelf-life, and, if you have any doubts about the working condition of your alarms and flashlights, replace them.

Establishing important safety habits in your home and business can save your life. What are some other ways you can stay safety-minded in the places you live and work?

Keep kits handy – First aid and disaster kids can be very helpful in the event of unforeseen injuries and emergencies.

Formulate your escape plan – Have a detailed escape plan in the case of a fire, earthquake, or other emergency event in both your home or office. Make sure you are aware of where fire exits are located when entering a new building, and, in the case of an emergency, refrain from using elevators.

Stay Informed – What types of weather-related emergencies are more likely to occur in your area? How can you best respond to these emergencies? Do you know where you are safest in the case of a tornado warning, for example? Being informed means being prepared.

As architects, we think in safety-focused ways in all that we do. Carrying these practices over into our personal lives and the lives of our clients is important, too. Remember, when you turn ahead your clocks this weekend, test your batteries. Being prepared is always a good thing!

Smoke Detector

The Importance of Architects

Try to imagine a world without buildings, or buildings without elements of design. Things look pretty bleak, don’t they? This is a world without architecture, and a world without architects.

The gifts that architects have imparted on our society over the years are too numerous to count, and are often overlooked. As we live and breathe this industry on a daily basis, we decided to put together a list of a few of our favorite things about being in the profession.

1.) ARCHITECTS SIMULTANEOUSLY THINK ON MANY LEVELS – Yes, architects think like designers, but we also think in terms of safety, liability, efficiency, and open space. Our consistent goal is to cover all the bases as we plan new projects. We have to be whole-brain thinkers at all times in order to ensure that our plans are whole as well. This level of multitasking isn’t an easy task, and is something that we’re quite proud of.

2.) ARCHITECTS ARE ALWAYS THINKING OF OTHERS – It’s the nature of our job: we spend the day thinking of other people as we plan. Our focus is to improve our clients’ quality of life, whether it is where they live, work or play. We’re wired to focus on client’s needs and goals and to make their wishes a reality. Whatever your vision might be, we can guarantee that it will become our focus until it becomes a tangible product that you can enjoy.

3.) ARCHITECTS ARE EDUCATED- We know our stuff, because our line of work requires that we do. We are trained to design while protecting the safety and overall welfare of each of our project’s inhabitants. To ensure that we can accomplish this undertaking, we have to be experts at what we do every step of the way. We have dedicated ourselves to consistent learning because we understand the importance of following new trends, keeping up with industry best practices, and taking advantage of continued education opportunities. For as long as we practice architecture, we will also be lifelong students.

4.) ARCHITECTS CREATE INSPIRATION – You know that great feeling of awe that overwhelms you when you’re standing in front of a well-designed building? An architect is behind that. This power to inspire is part of why we love what we do, and why it is our passion. There’s nothing better than planning every important aspect of places that will inspire our clients and will help them to live out their dreams.

5.) ARCHITECTS RENEW THE COMMUNITY – On a regular basis, we get to turn buildings that are old, rundown, broken and dismantled, into fresh, new, reinvented, healthy living and working environments for locals. In this way, one building at a time, we help to restore and refurbish cities. Our line of work allows us to make the places we live, work and play safer, better and more enjoyable. Pretty amazing if you ask us!



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