The challenge of climate change is not new in the U.S., and recent political dialogue on the subject suggests a renewed urgency to address it.

This week, the focus of our spotlight on social enterprise with, in partnership with ImpactAlpha, is on a West Coast company, Equilibrium Capital. Led by former venture capitalist and tech executive David Chen, this asset management firm is putting big dollars into play to demonstrate that sustainable resource management is essential for long-term, high-return investing.

Equilibrium Capital was formed in 2007 in response to new trends that Chen recognized as keys to reshaping major commodity sectors: rising middle class consumption and a new focus on water use. He started Equilibrium to capitalize on shifting values and new market opportunities born out of increasingly constrained natural resources and increasing demand for those same resources.

Chen founded the firm to be a sustainability-driven asset manager for institutional investors that delivers both a reliable financial return and intentional positive impact on communities and the environment. To do this, Equilibrium is providing innovative investment products, operating a portfolio of real assets, promoting transparency in the portfolio and scaling capital from diverse investors. Its portfolio currently includes opportunities in renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, green real estate and water management.

Equilibrium’s work is not going unnoticed. Despite the focus on sustainability, its investors aren’t just “do-gooders” who are willing to trade profit for social gains. Equilibrium’s investors expect a market rate of return. The firm has even attracted some of the most risk-averse investors in the world—pension fund managers—who, by the way, control trillions of dollars.

So, is impact investing a tool to create the positive environmental outcomes needed to address climate change? Time will tell, but returns so far seem to show that Equilibrium’s real assets are lower-risk than might be expected. To read more about how Equilibrium is creating positive impact and hoping to pioneer the next stage of large-scale, high-return impact investing, visit for the full story.