LaSalle taps PGIM exec as head of global ESG

The new hire brings a data-driven, analytical approach to the role, which will also focus on health and wellness initiatives.

LaSalle Investment Management has hired David DeVos as its head of global ESG, replacing Eric Duchon, who led the Chicago firm’s sustainability efforts before departing for Blackstone last fall.

DeVos, formerly the head of sustainability at PGIM Real Estate, plans to lean on technological innovations to better monitor emissions and other operational metrics, he told PERE.

“We’re already working on streamlining data coverage and data quality through digital transformation, which is really critical to understanding where we’re at today,” he said. “Using that information, taking a data-driven approach and keeping a continuous improvement mindset helps us target strategically where to best implement projects to improve returns, while simultaneously improving environmental performance.”

Global head of ESG is a new role at LaSalle and replaces the global head of sustainability position. The former role had a narrower remit, company officials told PERE, focusing more on asset management, certification for regional environmental standards and reporting on performance to the industry as well as clients. The new position adds more nuanced responsibilities, including the oversight of health and wellness initiatives in all regions.

LaSalle’s three divisions, Americas, Asia-Pacific and Europe, each have their own standards for environmental improvement. Its most ambitious objectives are in Europe, where it hopes to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. DeVos said this structure enables the firm to identify efficiencies for reporting or investing in one region and adapt them for use in the other two, where applicable. “There still needs to be room and flexibility for regions to evolve at their pace, certainly different investment strategies will evolve as well,” he added.

Before departing LaSalle, Duchon’s responsibilities included direct management of the Americas region. To enable DeVos to focus on bigger-picture objectives, the firm has hired Elena Alschuler as vice-president of sustainability in the Americas. The former head of real estate strategy at smart-glass manufacturer View will work with portfolio and asset management teams in North America to implement sustainability initiatives.

Unlike other recently installed ESG heads, DeVos will not oversee LaSalle’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. The firm’s various business lines will report progress on these fronts to him, but the objectives will continue to be set by regional leadership boards. An example of this region-specific approach is a program rolled out in the US last summer, for which LaSalle committed to providing up to $500,000 in scholarships to Black and Latinx college students.

“Having regional approaches and then rolling them up to see how LaSalle is performing on a global basis makes sense,” DeVos said, adding that he will analyze the performance of region-specific DEI programs to identify the best ways to meet the objectives of the firm’s clients and businesses.