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Machine-to-machine communications is characterized by involving a large number of intelligent machines sharing information and making collaborative decisions without direct human intervention. Due to its potential to support a large number of ubiquitous characteristics and achieving better cost efficiency, M2M communications has quickly become a market-changing force for a wide variety of real-time monitoring applications, such as remote e-healthcare, smart homes, environmental monitoring, and industrial automation. However, the flourishing of M2M communications still hinges on fully understanding and managing the existing challenges: energy efficiency (green), reliability, and security (GRS). Without guaranteed GRS, M2M communications cannot be widely accepted as a promising communication paradigm. In this article, we explore the emerging M2M communications in terms of the potential GRS issues, and aim to promote an energy-efficient, reliable, and secure M2M communications environment. Specifically, we first formalize M2M communications architecture to incorporate three domains - the M2M, network, and application domains - and accordingly define GRS requirements in a systematic manner. We then introduce a number of GRS enabling techniques by exploring activity scheduling, redundancy utilization, and cooperative security mechanisms. These techniques hold promise in propelling the development and deployment of M2M communications applications.