Nuveen Real Estate is accelerating its move into impact investing and has appointed Nadir Settles and Pamela West as global head and senior portfolio manager, respectively, of a new dedicated arm of the business.

The $152bn (€146bn) real estate fund manager, owned by US financial services group TIAA, hopes to reach up to $15bn assets under management in impact strategies globally.

Settles will report directly to Carly Tripp, global CIO and head of investments at Nuveen Real Estate, and lead an international team across the US, Europe and Asia-Pacific. Settles will continue to lead investments as head of the New York office.

Nuveen said it would build on the wider group’s 50-year track record in impact investing and create strategies designed to improve communities by providing supportive services, enhancing residents’ quality of life and financial outcomes, and ensuring affordable, sustainable and climate safe housing.

It will invest in early-stage projects and take an impact-led approach, targeting low-income and disadvantaged populations, while also focusing on regeneration projects within healthcare, education and transportation services.

Impact investing will be added to Nuveen Real Estate’s six existing “sectors”, which­­­­ comprise retail, office, housing, industrial, alternatives and debt.

“Nuveen is a pioneer in impact investing and we are competitively positioned to deliver a market-leading sector globally and at scale,” said Chris McGibbon, global head of real estate at Nuveen.

“Under Nadir and Pamela’s leadership, I am confident that this new sector will address some of the most pressing challenges in local real estate across the globe, while creating an avenue for investors to have a significant impact through their capital investment.”

Settles said: “By leveraging Nuveen Real Estate’s industry expertise, we are going beyond just affordable housing to focus our attention on community revitalisation.

“We see an immediate opportunity to scale our strategy and leverage our leading position in the industry to support tenant well-being and create a more sustainable future.”

Earlier this year, Nuveen entered an affordable-housing joint venture in the UK on behalf of TIAA, and last month it launched a German living impact platform, led by portfolio manager Tanja Volksheimer. Nuveen Real Estate already invests alongside affordable housing specialists in the US, such as Impact Community CapitalComunidad Partners and Jonathan Rose Companies.

Abigail Dean, global head of strategic insights at Nuveen, said: “Around the world we see a trend toward real estate as an effective tool for positive change for communities.

“Working as partners, local communities and real estate owners can meet shared objectives and tackle local challenges, from sustainability and mitigating climate risk, to healthcare, housing, and social exclusion.

“The built environment offers an exciting opportunity to deliver measurable impact across a range of assets, projects and locations.”