Priscilla Lee

Student / Priscilla Lee, Parsons The New School for Design (Architecture)/Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts (Environmental Studies)


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White Tops: Inspiration for innovation can be found in the most unlikely of places (like on the Manhattan-bound Q train).

What inspired you? 
Looking at all the dark rooftops from the elevated train traveling from Queens to Manhattan, I realized the energy-saving potential of simply painting rooftops white.

What’s White Tops?
White Tops is a student-run nonprofit organization that advocates and paints roofs white, while conducting research on the benefits. The organization was founded in 2010 and has received grants and support from major figures like former president Bill Clinton and Mayor Bloomberg. This year White Tops expects to paint at least six roofs, including the Hoboken City Hall in Hoboken, New Jersey. 

Who’s involved?
I am the founder of White Tops and work with other students from all over the city, including others from The New School. It’s like the perfect storm of students with different areas of expertise who have come together to collaborate on this project. White Tops has received sponsorship from The New School, New York University, Clinton Global Initiative University, and Ashoka. The White Tops team has also partnered with Sierra Club, White Roof Project, and NYC Cool Roofs.

What’s the strangest experience you've ever had on a New York City train (besides hatching the idea for a successful environmental initiative)?

Being a native New Yorker, I appreciate the inevitable weird encounters one has on the trains, and it takes a lot to shake me. Although, there was that one time I saw a guy walking around with a cat on his head…

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