Transformation to solve high vacancy rates

Transformation over new construction

Sometimes investment or renovation can help. But usually too much is 'purpose-built' and buildings are outdated. We do not expect to see high vacancy rates solve themselves and are convinced that policy must be conducted in order to stimulate transformation over new construction. This is because vacancies lead to a huge waste of materials, energy and capital, there are still enough places that can be rebuilt. Transformation and renovation are preferable to new construction from a sustainability viewpoint.


The market shows that transformation is absolutely possible. According to Statistics Netherlands, an estimated 26,000 new homes have been created through conversion in the period 2011-2015. Conversions accounted for 10% of the total growth in the housing stock in 2015. Based on the office database of R. Bak, approximately 1 million square metres of office space were removed from the market in 2016 alone, which has also led to a sharp decrease in vacancy rates.

Long term

Now that the economy is picking up and there is especially large demand for homes, there is also a growing discussion about new construction. With a view to the continuing high level of vacant offices, stores and social real estate and the expectation that investments in sustainability will result in more properties becoming vacant, now the time is ripe for long-term solutions for redundant real estate. Based on a long-term sustainability perspective, it is an ideal moment to realise large-scale transformation and redevelopment of complete areas.

Rabobank and transformation

Since becoming a signatory to the Agreement on Managing Vacant Office Buildings in 2012 ('Convenant Aanpak Leegstand Kantoren'), we have placed the focus on transformations and have hardly financed any new offices. We have since then been involved in transforming approximately 1.5 million square metres of real estate into a different function, which has led to the realisation of approximately 9,500 new homes. We often hear that the low-hanging fruit has been picked and that the opportunities for transformation have dried up. But we take a different view. There are many more opportunities than only those found in the large cities and the possibilities are not limited to homes and hotels.

Rabobank has already financed 1.5 million square metres of transformations

We support a broad circular approach to the built environment through our vision on transformation. A longer life for buildings (or parts of them) creates financial, as well as ecological and social value. From followers to frontrunners: we want to encourage the entire real estate world to make this transition. We do this through various means including our Circular Economy Challenges, the Circular Enterprise Performance Indicator, our expertise in appraising sustainable buildings and obviously through financing products such as Rabo Green Financing.