A Minneapolis City Council panel approved rules Monday to require commercial buildings to receive public ratings based on their energy efficiency.

The goal of the ordinance, sponsored by Council Member Elizabeth Glidden, is to encourage building owners to reduce their energy consumption by posting their scores on a city website. Environmental groups offered full-throated support at a public hearing, while building owners opposed the mandate.

Under the proposal, commercial buildings larger than 50,000 square feet would submit their energy usage information to Energy Star, a government-backed program that offers tools for calculating energy efficiency.

About 50 buildings in Minneapolis already voluntarily display their Energy Star ratings. Kevin Lewis, executive director of the Greater Minneapolis Building Owners and Managers Association, noted the progress building owners have already made conserving energy.

"We question whether the proposed building rating system would add to the success of market forces already in play and are concerned about the potential for unintended negative consequences," Lewis said.

Ken Bradley, director of Environment Minnesota who is running for City Council, testified that while businesses do not like mandates, this one was worthwhile. "When you look at the city's challenges for reducing global warming emissions, this is clearly one of the biggest chunks," Bradley said.

The rules will be voted on by the full City Council next week.

Eric Roper • 612-673-1732