Companies can save money by implementing changes that also help the environment. Just ask private equity giant Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. The New York-based firm, one of the pioneers of leveraged buyouts, announced Wednesday that its partnership with Environmental Defense Fund has resulted in it saving millions at three companies.

KKR said the partnership led to it saving $16.4 million at U.S. Foodservice Inc., PRIMEDIA Inc. and Sealy Corporation and preventing more than 25,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions last year. In fact, it went so well that KKR and EDF will soon implement the initiative at four additional KKR companies: Accellent, Biomet, Dollar General and HCA.

KKR and EDF have been working together since May 2008 to develop and test a set of analytic tools and metrics to help companies improve in several key environmental performance areas, including greenhouse gas emissions, waste, water, forest resources and priority chemicals.

In 2009, KKR and EDF will continue to work together to extend the program across KKR's U.S. portfolio. Already, KKR has launched a Web site that provides sample tools, best practices and case studies for cost-effectively improving environmental performance to promote action among its portfolio companies.

To drive broader change across the private equity and other industries, the tools and best practices developed through the partnership will be available through the EDF Innovation Exchange in the fall and KKR and EDF will continue to publicly share results.

As part of of the effort, U.S. Foodservice implemented new driver policies, business processes and truck technologies to improve its operational efficiency and reduce emissions from its delivery fleet. Last year, it saved $8.2 million in fuel costs and avoided 22,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions (equivalent to more than 4,400 cars.

PRIMEDIA, a print and online publisher, increased online efforts and resized its publications. As a result, it saved $2.9 million in material costs and cut its paper use by more than 3,000 tons (equivalent to more than 40,000 trees).

Sealy Corporation, the largest bedding manufacturer in North America, recycled raw materials used for producing bedding and improved delivery fleet efficiency through improved driver policies and truck technologies to reduce waste and decrease greenhouse gas emissions. It saved $1.2 million in fuel costs and avoided more than 3,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions (equivalent to more than 600 cars). In addition, Sealy saved more than $4 million in material costs and avoided 650 tons of solid waste (equivalent to the capacity of more than 46 garbage trucks) by reducing scrap per bed (pounds/unit) by 16%.