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Meet Hafsa Burt, AIA, LEED AP, BD+C, NCARB

WRITTEN BY: Neil Richardson
PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Doug Birnbaum / Pacific Urban Residential / HB+A Architects

The San Francisco Bay Area is steeped in rich architecture and ornate design. Hafsa Burt of HB+A Architects has been immersed in the field of Architecture in the Bay Area for the past 17+ years. Burt has a passion for design and transformation, with a focus on Green Building and Sustainability.

“We strive to set a high standard for design and sustainability in all our projects and try to find economical solutions for all our clients,” says Burt.

Meet Hafsa Burt, AIA, LEED AP, BD+C, NCARB

San Francisco Architect Hafsa Burt. Image credit:

Burt attended the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) where she obtained her undergraduate and Professional Masters of Architecture (M.Arch.) degree, with a minor in Electronic Design. 

Her 17+ years of San Francisco architect project experience ranges from the (N) proposal for the Guggenheim Museum for NYC at Gehry’s office, a fast-track design-build secure connector for the San Francisco International Airport (SFO), to smaller 2000 sq.ft. tenant improvement (TI) projects and custom single family homes targeting Net Zero Energy goals.

With varied experience in urban retail, institutional, commercial, hospitality and mixed-use markets, Burt is involved in all projects. Her passion and commitment to the practice of architecture as a collaborative and innovative enterprise, Burt brings with her years of experience in commercial, institutional, industrial and mixed-use realms.

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) Collaboration Project

Burt is very active in social circles in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. Other local community interests include, social and racial justice, occupants’ health in an indoor environment, Habitat for Humanity. The firm has a development arm as of 2019 focused on net zero energy buildings and has successfully completed an Adaptive re-use project in Stockton and a custom prefabricated net zero energy home which is going through the process of certification with the International Living Building Challenge institute.

The firm’s focus is meaningful design and work that focuses on real problems affecting our planet. The firm is actively involved in Research that creates prototypes and does experimentation to test efficiency in the building industry. Learning from their clients’ processes the firm is constantly looking for efficient solutions. The firm strongly believes that it is their responsibility to come up with working solutions that create the most impact and work very well economically.

Luxury Architectural Design in Private Guard-Gated Community

“Hafsa Burt of HB+A has been easy to work with. She listens well, brings up pertinent design and code information, and has a network of reliable sub-contractors and others in the Bay Area. The office also is very fast! It has been a pleasure to work with an excellent designer who is also cost-conscious. Plus, Hafsa seems to have good working relationships with several building departments in the Bay Area, which helps the review and approval process proceed smoothly,” said Joanna Callenbach, VP of Development and Construction at Stonebrae Country Club Living.

Stonebrae Club House Villas in Hayward, CA

Stonebrae offers a variety of exceptional new homes for an elevated lifestyle. The private, guard-gated community will consist of more than 575 new homes in five distinct villages. Homeowners can create their own unique spaces and add upgraded features in a home crafted specially for them. Or, they can design their luxurious dream residence in collaboration with a team of highly regarded builders. At Stonebrae, residents experience the very best in life.

“Her expertise is valuable. We have used her office for several projects now,” continued Callenbach.

Burt designed the Stonebrae Cafe and Stonebrae ClubHouse Villas, multiple renovations at the Club House and also a ground up Cafe proposal outside the Community grounds.

Architectural Practitioner to Watch

As a long-time regional member of the AIA , Burt was named an Architectural Practitioner to Watch by the National American Institute of Architects (AIA). 

The AIA works to advance our nation’s quality of life and protect the public’s health, safety and welfare, as it has done for 160 years. The AIA has a long history of requiring that its members adhere to the highest ethics and standards of professionalism, integrity and competence. Now more than ever, the collective voice of architects is essential for designing a better future for our country and planet. Even in recent times of change, AIA’s values remain constant. 

With multiple credentials, Burt has a LEED AP with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) with a focus on BD+C (Building Design and Construction), and WELL AP with the International Well Building Institute (IWBI) focused on occupants’ health. She has been one of the pioneers of the green building movement before mandates codes and ordinances and helped pass green building ordinances in bay area counties.

The WELL Accredited Professional (WELL AP) credential denotes expertise in the WELL Building Standard (WELL) and a commitment to advancing human health and wellness in buildings and communities around the world. The IWBI is leading the global movement to transform our buildings and communities in ways that help people thrive.

IWBI mobilizes the global wellness community through management of the WELL AP™ credential, convenes a global network of organizations through IWBI membership, pursues applicable research, develops educational resources, and advocates for policies that promote health and wellness everywhere.

Striving for Professional Excellence in Architecture

As a member of NCARB, The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, Burt continues to strive for professional excellence in the architectural profession. She is licensed in Texas and California and is able to practise anywhere in the country and provide the same excellent service deeply embedded in professional and personal ethics.

Terra Glen: Small Works Project in San Jose, CA. Image Credit: Pacific Urban Residential.

NCARB is a nonprofit organization made up of the architectural licensing boards of 55 U.S. states and territories, with each jurisdiction being responsible for regulating the practice of architecture within its borders. NCARB develops and administers national programs for candidates pursuing architectural licensure and helps architects expand their professional reach through the NCARB Certificate.

AIA California Committee on the Environment (COTE)

Burt serves on the AIA California Committee on the Environment (COTE) which helps advocate Green building issues and strategies to pass legislation and mandates in California. The most recent efforts are related to the electrification mandate which is Building electrification moving toward 100% Clean, Renewable Energy on Campuses. 

Committing to 100% renewable electricity is a great start, but it is critical that buildings eliminate the use of fossil fuels for all energy uses, including heating, hot water and cooling. Transitioning these systems away from fossil fuels is therefore key to moving toward 100% clean, renewable energy. Building electrification is a great way to get there.

Protecting the Environment in California and Beyond

Environmental sustainability is another passion of Burt’s. She strives to make every design decision based on its potential impact on our environment and planet.

Taking action for a greener, healthier California, by protecting the places that all of us love. Promoting core environmental values, such as clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and clean energy to power our lives. Focusing on timely, targeted action that wins tangible improvements in the quality of our environment and our lives.  The urban built environment is responsible for 75% of annual global GHG emissions: buildings alone account for 39% and yet so few architects, builders or developers are focused on solutions outside of mandated ordinances and codes.

Hafsa Burt presented with the Distinguished Woman of the Year Award

Why is Indoor Air Quality Important?

Indoor Air Quality and Building Occupants’ health has been a previously focus for Burt. So much so, she has done over 100+ talks on the topic in the west coast.

Indoor air quality is a major concern to businesses, building managers, tenants and employees because it can impact the health, comfort, well-being and productivity of building occupants.

Most Americans spend up to 90% of their time indoors and many spend most of their working hours in an office environment. Studies conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and others show that indoor environments sometimes can have levels of pollutants that are actually higher than levels found outside.

Indoor air quality (IAQ) refers to the air quality within and around buildings and structures, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants. Understanding and controlling common pollutants indoors can help reduce your risk of indoor health concerns. Health effects from indoor air pollutants may be experienced soon after exposure or, possibly, years later. Given the current climate this was something forecasted by proponents of healthy buildings 10+ years ago with design strategies.

Multifamily Project in Oakland, CA

Bay Area Regional Energy Network’s (BayREN) Regional Forum on Municipal Buildings

Burt has been a speaker at BayREN. The BayREN Codes & Standards (C&S) Program is a joint effort of Bay Area cities and counties (Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Marin counties) to achieve full compliance with provisions of the California Energy Code, she has also been on several other panels with BOMA focused on ADA and Building code cycles.

This ambitious and engaging local program aims to:

– Establish metrics to evaluate compliance with existing energy codes.

– Identify and deliver targeted training for those involved in energy code enforcement.

– Accelerate energy code compliance throughout the region.

What is Next for San Francisco’s Hafsa Burt and HB+A Architects?

Burt has been awarded / named:

ENR’s 20 Under 40 Construction Professionals in California

– American Institute of Architects’ coveted Young Architects’ Honor Award

– One of the Top Architecture Firms in California

News Media coverage of Burt and HB+A Architects has appeared in Curbed, Arch Daily, Bustler, Architect Magazine, Archello, Architizer Journal, Nob Hill Gazette, San Francisco Business, Design Guide Magazine, Interiors + Sources Magazine, and many others.

The sky and skyline of San Francisco truly is the limit for Burt’s passion for the environment and drive for Architectural excellence in the Bay Area.

Have an Iconic San Francisco Project in Your Future?
Learn More About HB+A Architects.

HB+A Architects
2811 Castro Valley Blvd. Suite 109
Castro Valley, CA. 94546
p: 510-830-4797


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