With BNG Bank as our partner we can focus on what we do best

18 April 2024 - 

The Municipal Health Service (GGD) plays a vital role in keeping the Netherlands healthy. To do so, they need reliable, smart, future-proof buildings. So when the building of the Utrecht Region Municipal Health Service was in need of renovation, they didn’t settle for half-measures. They needed a solid loan – and BNG Bank provided a solution.

Sturdy but outdated, with lots of individual offices, modular ceilings and standard fittings. That’s how Rik Verkerk, Group Controller for the Utrecht Region Municipal Health Service, described the old building. ‘Obviously, it didn’t meet current requirements, including in the area of sustainability. After all, we had been using it intensively for nearly twenty years.’ 

Doing the renovation themselves 

‘When we started this major renovation project, we had three options,’ says Verkerk. ‘We could sell our building and lease a different building. Or sell the building and then lease it back from the new owner after a renovation, which is known as a “sale-and-leaseback”. The third option was to stay in the building and do the renovation ourselves. It quickly became clear that option three was the best choice for us. Once we’d reached this decision, we brought in an external project leader and architect to help us clarify what we wanted and work out the details.’  
It was clear that the renovated building would have to be energy neutral. ‘That was necessary to achieve our sustainability ambitions and our goal to make the building future-proof,’ Verkerk explains. A new, more modern way of working was also on the wish list. This included flexible workspaces and more options to facilitate collaboration with colleagues as well as partners in the chain. Verkerk: ‘That wish suddenly became a far more urgent priority when the pandemic forced us to think differently about where and how we work.’ 

More expensive building materials 

The pandemic was not the only challenge encountered by the Utrecht Region Municipal Health Service. The cost estimate for the renovation project had just been completed when war broke out in Ukraine. That had all kinds of consequences; for example, building materials became much more expensive. So they needed a financial partner who inspired confidence. BNG Bank certainly did that and also offered the best conditions of all the parties with which enquiries were made. Not only did BNG Bank offer the best deal in terms of interest rates and loan term, but it also offered excellent process guidance.
Fast forward to 2024, and the Utrecht Region Municipal Health Service has been occupying its renovated building for almost a year. Verkerk: ‘Working in this building has given us new energy. We now have gas-free heating and modern climate control systems and we can collaborate in a way that suits today’s needs. For example, thanks to smart, sound-absorbing materials, we can stay focused while collaborating in our open-plan offices.’ 

Covering risks 

Verkerk is pleased with how the process to take out the loan has gone so far. ‘BNG staff are competent, reliable and patient; they take the time to help you. When you take out such a large loan, you’re spending a lot of public money, so you really want to make sure the risks are covered as much as possible, down to the smallest detail. As Group Controller, I now have nothing to worry about in terms of how risks are being covered. That leaves us free to focus on what we do best: making sure the residents of the Utrecht region can live safe and healthy lives.’
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