A fake fireplace is definitely more eco-friendly than a traditional wood burning fireplace. There are a couple types of fireplace alternatives, gas or electric. Wood and gas fireplaces will work during power outages, unlike electric fireplaces. Gas fireplaces are the most efficient out of the three, in terms of area heated to energy used.
Wood burning stoves and fireplaces have been linked to climate change, this is a big downside of real fireplaces. Biomass burning puts off ash, soot, black carbon, CO2, and other greenhouse gas particulates.
There is also an eco-friendly option, made by EcoSmart, that burns denatured ethanol. Check out this previous answer for more information.
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